October 17, 2017
As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements.
According to The Verge, Franklin says that, “Facebook is the ultimate matchmaking tool.”
“If I think about myself, and the interests that I have, there are certain things I’m going to want to share with people who have that in common,” she said. “As a new mom, I would have loved something like Spaces. To not worry that I haven’t showered in three days, and I finally got the baby to sleep for twenty minutes, and I’m not sure if it’s time to start feeding rice cereal. Let me go into my new mom’s group and see if someone is just there to communicate with me. And I can show off cute pictures! That’s special.”
Franklin said the company has “really honed in on [the] purpose around the product.” “We could create fully fledged games,” she said. “But if the ultimate result of that is, I’m doing my thing in the game and you’re doing your thing, and we’re not communicating, then we’re not doing a service to the experience we’re trying to create.”
Facebook Spaces isn’t simply about remote communications, she added, but is “starting from a place of friends and family,” with the idea of enhancing existing relationships.
VR is “never going to replace the experience of actual being with people … in the same physical space.” “That’s not the intention,” she said. “The intention is, how can you bring people closer together when they can’t accomplish that in person.”