We set up 2 days of user testing at arebyte gallery and invited a wide range of users into The Realm. Some had come to the first beta-test and were able to comment on the changes we’d made in the development. Others were entirely novice users. Before entering The Realm users were given only one simple instruction: to explore their surroundings and to improvise with movement and with sound.
All test-users shared their observations, giving us valuable insights into how they responded to the immersive experience and how it made them feel.
Here are just a few of those observations…
I like that it’s a very stripped down, abstracted aesthetic.
The sound was spectacular because it really led you into a different world. It gave you a sense of calm and serenity, which is important when stepping into a new world. At some point objects are flying at you and then things are mutating. In these kinds of scenarios you might feel threatened in a way, but I never did because the sound gave me a sense of feeling at home in a different world.
I liked the fact that it was changing according to how you were interacting with it. I can imagine that if I hadn’t done some movements, other things might have not had happened, so it creates quite a personal immersive experience. Another thing that I hadn’t experienced before – all of the ones that I’ve done before were very pre-designed in terms of what you’re going to experience, so this was really exciting.
I think that was probably the best VR I’ve had before… it was really immersive and I don’t think I had an experience like that where I was able to walk around, in which my whole sense of being was immersed.
I really liked the in-between organic and non-organic and I think that’s something I can see evolving and developing. I think, this in-between, things that you don’t know and you’re unfamiliar with and so abstract that they’re a novelty character for you and the things that you’re very familiar with. I think it’s an interesting border to walk on.
It was exciting. It was really interesting. It was nice to experiment, to see what I could create, what I could do in there.
The closest thing I can compare is a little bit like being underwater and you have to deal with a school of fish somehow. Just like, there’s something to understand but you don’t exactly know what. And you got all those entities that are here and there’s something happening but you don’t know exactly why but… so just, try different things: try move, let’s try to touch it, let’s try to scare them, let’s try to tell them to come. So it’s a school of fish and suddenly turns into, I don’t know, chicks.
The physics in the environment seemed to work really well, like when you clap your hands and things fall over and then you go in and touch them again and they float off the top, so that was nice.
I found the experience exceptional… immersive and interesting. I liked how the elements pop up in my vision. There’s a sense of discovery, in a way of something unexpected.
I was completely immersed in the whole thing, with the sound. You can tell it’s not real but it affects you quite deeply in a way. I was almost a bit scared inside because I didn’t know if every time I turned around something would be different. I didn’t know what was going to evolve and what was going to happen next.
It felt like a dance. It felt like I was moving with the swarms of objects and I was trying to figure out whether the way that I move would cause a specific response. It was an exploration of sorts. It felt almost like a yoga technique. I was both meditating and looking inside myself and on the other hand, trying to find comforting movements that wouldn’t signal any aggressive behaviour but signal around me.
I would say it was weird – but good weird.
I tried to, kind of, calmly touch them as slowly and nicely as I could. I tried to clap but I’m not sure if they liked it or not – I don’t think there was much response. But then I realized… that more gentle hand movements are better and then… when I kind of, swiped in there, they all just fell out. But if I just invitingly left my hands in there then they kind of gathered around.
I think this experience lives in the unexpected and that’s what I enjoyed the most. Certain things happen to you that are very much physical experiences that you don’t see coming and this sense of exploration… yeah, it would be interesting to see how it develops and evolves.
So this was literally stepping into a different world. All of a sudden, I was in a different environment, different universe, with its own rules, its own unknowns. I wanted to figure out what is the life, what is the role I play in this world and how I can operate in it, by walking around but also experiencing that environment. It was a very interesting experience.
I guess at first, I was kind of walking around trying to explore everything, see what was happening. And then, things kept evolving, so at first it was completely empty, and then those creatures started to come and that’s when I started playing with the sound and started to understand that they responded to sound, and different sounds, so I was playing around with that for a bit.
I’d like to experience it again. It was fun and I wonder how I’d react to it next time.
It had a great sense of freedom and a great sense of a new sort of reality for this particular space.
It’s nice when you step on the threshold and there’s something new, something entirely unknown. It’s interesting to see how much you can push yourself to cross a certain boundary. In this case it was jumping into the pool, grabbing these objects. It felt very organic and very alive.