September 18, 2015
Results from a new survey show that 41 percent of the adult population of the U.S. have either already tried a virtual reality headset or are interested in doing so. Not surprisingly, the majority of those in that 41 percent fall into the young (18–24 year old) demographic and the majority are male. That’s most likely because VR experiences, up until now at least, have mainly focused on gaming. But the new Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival is highlighting a wide range of content that most likely will interest a broader audience.
According to Ars Technica, virtual travel firm YouVisit conducted an online survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers through Google Consumer Surveys. The results were that approximately 23 million people have already tried VR, via Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift development kits. A few have tried HTC Vive, Sony’s PlayStation VR or Oculus Rift prototypes.
The 18–24 year old demographic was most enthusiastic, with 46 percent interested in trying VR and 18 percent having already done so, whereas among people over 65, only 14 percent wanted to give VR a try. Examining interest across gender, 15 percent of men had tried VR, with an additional 36 percent interested in trying, whereas only 8 percent of women have put on VR headsets and only 21 percent are interested in doing so.
ArsTechnica notes the connection of VR to gaming: 40 percent of men responded they were interested in VR gaming versus 15 percent of women.
But VR isn’t just for gaming, as a recent Virtual Reality Film Festival amply demonstrated. Re/code reports that attendees at a 10-city tour of a festival organized by VR video agency Kaleidoscope and video hosting platform Vrideo had plenty of viewing choices.
The festival featured a mini-documentary about the post-earthquake Nepal, another on warring Syria and a first-person account of the 2005 terrorist attacks on London. More light-hearted content included a Vincent van Gogh-inspired cafe and a cartoon called “Butts” as well as nature and travel videos.
Re/code quotes film festival co-organizer/Kaleidoscope co-founder René Pinnell that virtual reality could become “the dominant art form.” “It’s not a certain thing,” he says. “It’s going to take all of us chasing that thing down, spending long hours, tearing our hair out, trying to figure out how to move people with this medium, to help it reach its potential.”