The normal alien

We are currently designing a social VR experience in which all the participants are aliens from another planet. But we also want participants to feel at home.

In other words, we want people to feel what it would be like to be a normal alien hanging out with their alien friends, as though it were no big deal. This raises all sorts of fun and interesting design challenges.

For example, we’re guessing at this point that it is necessary for each “alien” participant to have a clearly identifiable face with two eyes, because those qualities are fundamentally important to us in our social interactions. We probably also want them to have two recognizable hands to gesture with, even if those look like claws or fins or something else.

So let’s suppose that those two constraints are a given. What kinds of things can we continue to play with, to create a feeling of being at home together in an alternate alien world?

Obviously we will need to try out lots of ideas and just see what feels right. I keep going back to what my colleague Mike Woods said back in 2014: “Anybody who claims to know what will work in VR, without having tried it in VR, doesn’t know what they are talking about.”

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