So this weekend, I resigned from a job that I’d been working at for a little over a month. I’m pretty sure that I am one of the first people in the world to have a job in Virtual Reality, and almost positive that I’m the first to quit a job in Virtual Reality.
You’re probably pretty confused right now, I mean, people have been working in VR for quite a few years now, building things, doing lots of different things. How can I say I’m the first?
Well, the reason my job was different to all of those was not that I was working on creating virtual reality, but that I went to work in Virtual Reality. My job was as a greeter for the social VR platform High Fidelity. My shifts consisted of logging on to the platform, putting on my Vive HMD, and talking to new users – helping them work through any problems they may have, teaching them what they can do with the platform, or even teaching them some of the more advanced creation features in High Fidelity. During my time there, I talked with people all over the world – some of whom should probably have been in bed instead of hanging out in VR, but who am I to judge? I also got really familiar with a lot of the different aspects of High Fidelity – one of which, is that as an artist, if I want to build a multiplayer environment and show it to other people, I can do so without writing a single line of code or needing to do anything super technical. I can just upload my assets, drop them in the scene, move them around, visit them in VR to see how big they are, and if they make sense for the scene, and then immediately share with other people. I can’t state enough how powerful that is – and how much that appeals to the people I met during the course of my work there.
One of the things that I found most interesting, though, is how fun some things are in VR that you just wouldn’t expect. We spent a fair amount of time stacking giant boxes as high as we could go, for example. I’m sure that’s something you haven’t found fun in reality since you were probably about 2 years old, yet in VR it’s a whole new fun thing to do. Scaling yourself up or down and flying around while you talk to others is also much more entertaining than you’d think it would be. Being able to interact with your environment with other people, use things in unexpected ways, like shooting a flare gun at someone to give them a horror movie style underlight, this is something that even after months of regular VR use, I still find fun and novel, especially with other people.
It’s possible that one day, going to work in VR will be the norm for most of us – as avatars get closer and closer to accurately representing our movement and expressions, there will soon be many fewer reasons to deal with that awful commuter life. I found it to be really natural – after a couple of hours I would forget that I was at home, because I wasn’t, really. My consciousness, and my job were all focused in a virtual world. I’d be happy for most of my meetings to be in VR, I think, and as tools get better for working within VR, more and more people will be spending their work day doing the same. Imagine one day that instead of customer service being a horrible phone tree, you instead could walk down a path in VR that takes you to the person you need to talk to, complete with soothing visuals and sounds – or if you’re the customer service rep, you can spend your day in an environment of your choice while you deal with difficult customers.
I’m sad that I had to resign, this was an interesting experience for me, and everyone at High Fidelity was really great.
If you’re interested in doing my job, they’re hiring to replace me!