Virtual Reality is back in the news with HTC's launch of a VR headset. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Samsung are reportedly also developing VR products. Could this technology be of any use in the team building industry?
This idea is not new. Back in the 90s various companies launched large arcade style virtual reality games. The experience was rather basic, not unlike Minecraft, with box-like environments. You could make your way around a virtual world and shoot enemies using a VR gun. A company found a way of linking the machines together so teams could enter a virtual world and undertake missions together. This was presented to the team building industry but it didn't catch on.
Without doubt the unsophisticated nature of the virtual world didn't help, but a bigger problem is that being in a virtual world, represented as an avatar instead of your real self, puts a block between yourself and other humans. Google had a similar problem with Google Glass. Many commented that speaking to someone who was wearing the glasses was unsettling and took away from the interaction. Virtual reality is basically not a good way of building human relationships.
So virtual reality is back and there will probably be an attempt to bring it into the team building industry. The experience will be more sophisticated but will that be enough to make virtual adventures catch on as a team building idea? We predict that it will not, because the essential problem of a block of human interaction will still be there.