For over six years, Virtual Reality (VR) hobbyists and experts in Germany have been organizing themselves into local groups to exchange information about the technology, opportunities and experiences.
MOVR has been actively supporting the Cologne VR Meetup in its roles as the main sponsor and organizer right from the beginning.
Not only did the international exchange with VR-focused Meetup.com groups emerge early, but also are the organizers of the German groups in close contact.
So the idea arose between the organizers of the largest German VR Meetup groups from the cities of Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Erfurt, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig and Munich to organize “Virtual Germany“ – the first virtual VR&AR Meetup for the whole of Germany.
The technical (social VR) platform on which the event was to take place was an important point in the organization right from the start as more than 350 participants were expected to register, due to the size of the individual communities.
Besides Altspace (a startup that was bought by Microsoft in 2017) other platforms like Mozilla Hubs (social VR platform of Mozilla the company behind the Firefox Browser) and Highfidelity (startup of the former co-founder of Second Life Philip Rosedale) were taken into consideration.
In the end the choice fell on Engage, a platform for further education, training, meetings and events in VR / AR
Since Engage only allowed 50 people per virtual room at the time of the event, we divided the event into several rooms and distributed the program from the main room to the other rooms via YouTube stream.
During the event there were over 120 users simultaneously connected in up to five rooms (moon, earth, Mars, etc.)
As our later survey confirmed, it was important that the platform also allowed access without VR glasses/equipment. In addition to a desktop client for interactive access, we also provided a YouTube stream, which significantly increased the range of the event and also granted access to participants with smartphones or tablets.
The number of people needed for the organization of a virtual event is at least as high as for physical events, in many cases even significantly higher.
The technical requirements for accessing the platform should be set as low as possible. It can also be assumed that the participants’ technical experience with such tools is poor or nonexistent. The requirement of installing an access software can already be a criterion for not participating in the event.
It needs a central point of contact for participants (landing page / hub) e.g. with a chat support before and during the event, that is as easy to reach as possible and offers help with the onboarding.
Virtual reality does not automatically solve the different challenges of physical meetings: e.g. if more than a dozen people come together in one (virtual) place, enough space or rooms are needed to enable good and quiet conversations.
Since we have also made it our task in the organizational team to gain valuable experience in a wide range with our events, we will carry out the Virtual Germany Meetup # 2 in August 2020 on a new social VR platform.
Together with Altspace, the public platform Mozilla Hubs is also under consideration, whose core technology forms the basis of MOVR Hubs and offers simple, browser-based access to the VR world with and without VR glasses.