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Virtual Reality (Gaming)

B07 | Daan, Reno, Michelle & Martin

5 | Conclusion & Research Outlook

Conclusion and main findings

We started this research because of our own lack of knowledge about the subject. We already made up a lot of preconceptions and merely wanted to inform the reader with some more information about Virtual Reality. Prior to the research we started with the following Hypothesis:

The Dutch (gaming) society is not yet fully aware of the possibilities of Virtual Reality (gaming).

We can conclude now that we could not have been more wrong. In our research we did not only find out that the hardcore Dutch gaming community has been involved and informed about all the development and progress of Virtual reality. But have been discussing the subject since the start of announcements and teasers in 2012. During our Literature review we found out that the VR gaming industry is rapidly growing with already 30 stores driven by the concept of Virtual Reality (Gaming). The only possible reason why we assume Virtual Reality gaming is not yet as big of an issue as it could’ve been is the price (599 euros)  for a decent working VR Gaming device. But this problem is definitely not exclusive to the Netherlands.

Something that might counter our findings of a huge Virtual Reality fan base in the Netherlands are the findings in our Online Research. For the country with the highest amount of clicks on the search term ‘Virtual reality,’ we were surprised that, aside from prior congresses and announcement dates, the interest in Virtual reality was almost none existing.  Both trend Analysis’s counter each other and the only reasonable conclusion we can make out of it is that the Dutch gaming community has an very impulsive life span. Which basically means that the interest in an topic such as Virtual Reality (gaming) rises to an peak when there is a big announcement. But about a week after the new development the community drives upon another breakthrough in a similar field of interest. We do think that, once all VR gear devices are available for consumers in The Netherlands, a long term interest will grow.

Webscraping

With webscraping we first found out that Eindhoven is probably the city with the highest interest in Virtual Reality. This is not very surprising as Eindhoven is also often seen as the technological capital of the Netherlands. With the webscraping we also found out that, connecting to the hashtags we used, people often use hashtags that are more detailed. When searching for #VirtualReality we stumbled upon a lot of detailed hashtags that suggest that the Dutch gaming community already has a lot of detailed knowledge about the branch.

Netnography

With our Netnography we had the idea to ‘infiltrate’ into a few different online gaming communities. Namely: GameVillage, GamersNET, Dutch Warriors, Insidegamer and the Dutch versions of Tweakers and Steam. The only huge conclusion we can make from the visit and infiltration in these websites and communities is that almost none of the gaming websites that are seen as ‘most knowledgeable’ and ‘most popular’  have nearly 0 topics discussing Virtual Reality, its devices or even Virtual Reality gaming. And when the communities do create topics there is almost no response. The website we did find usefull was Tweakers, a website that hosted a topic about the Oculus Rift. With this topic we found information of Dutch consumers from the announcement and rise of the Oculus Rift in 2012 and consumers still post on the topic daily. In this community we could see an amazing difference in approach quite similar as what we found broadly on Youtube while doing Netnography there.

From our Netnography we can conclude that, since the Oculus Rift started the creation and development of Virtual reality, there have been 3 phases of approaches by the general community.

Phase 1. With the announcement of the Oculus Rift and the rise on Kickstarter the general approach was very surreal. We ourselves started our research because we felt that our childhood dream of creating Virtual Reality is now reality. This was also the general approach when searching for responses on Tweakers and several Youtube videos in 2012.

Phase 2. Around 2014 there were a lot of reviews about the Oculus Rift and even some competitors announcing its arrival that started with their own perception of creating Virtual Reality. By this time Oculus Rift had already replaced its release date several times. The general approach was a bit negative towards mainly the Oculus Rift. This was due to high expectations and maybe even a lack of patience.

Phase 3. Around the start of 2015 Oculus launched its campaign in which they made clear they rather create an solid working VR device then coming up with fast technology. This was very well received by the audience. At the same time there where a lot of new competitors launching its product in different world congresses from the HTC Vive (probably Oculus’s biggest competitor) to even the cardboard virtual Reality maker made by Google. By now the audience has a lot of information and given knowledge and is looking forward to a world in which Virtual Reality is not something surreal anymore. While there is still a gap between people who have no idea Virtual Reality has come this far already and people that follow every step along the way. We can clearly see that people know way more than we expected about the fast growing branch of Virtual Reality.

 

To answer our research question

In our research questions we asked ourselves what the difference was between the responses of the Dutch gamers society towards Virtual Reality gaming in 2012 and now. How it has grown and basically if our country is ready for a new type of reality.

Our answer? Yes, the Dutch gaming community is definitely ready for the possible Virtual reality domination on future gaming. While our expectations were very low on how much knowledge people had about Virtual Reality and all its possibilities we found out that, although not every gamer is waiting for it, there is already a lot of interest in it.

However, there is a big difference in approach to virtual reality from people that do know how far the development is and people who do not have the knowledge of these communities. Even in our own class we saw a huge difference in people who were still amazed by the Samsung VR Gear that we brought and people who not just knew it existed, but also already tried it themselves or even had one at home. Virtual reality is not as far as regular consoles or famous games yet. But we do believe that the Dutch gaming society has developed an acceptable interest and knowledge to say that the community is ready for Virtual Gaming and all its possibilities.

Advantages & limits of online research (research outlook)

A big advantage of doing online research is that we can obtain a large and diverse sample. It is cost efficient and fast, compared to doing offline research (such as an interview, focus group or observations). Another big advantage is that the target audience of one’s research is easier to approach, as you do not need to gather all kinds of people: you can easily go on the Internet and scrape for certain data, or use netnographic research to find the discussions you want to analyse in your study.

However, there are also limits of online research. First of all, with webscraping you scrape the data that is already available for you and your tools. Whenever a platform decides to change policy, you have to take that into account and your tool may not work anymore. This has been the case for us with the Instagram Hashtag Explorer.

Secondly, it is harder to obtain good qualitative data. When doing an interview or having a focus group, you can easily talk to your audience and ask questions until you receive the answer required. While doing netnography for example, you observe things that are already there, meaning you have no influence on what people say. If you need more information or elaboration on someone’s opinion for example, in real life it is easier to ask for than on the Internet, where people may not respond.

 

 

4 | Policy Recommendations

During an interview at IGN with HTC Vive, people were mostly discussing which VR device would be best to buy. With this we can recommend all VR manufacturers to actively showcase their VR product more often and in a better fashion, but also to differentiate themselves from other VR products.

From most of our research we can tell that people aren’t shocked by the capabilities of VR. This means that whomever first comes with new options for VR gaming and shock its audience may create a lead for themselves. Thus, differentiate themselves.

In our trend analysis we can see that the Oculus Rift has some spikes. The spikes occurred between Jan 2014 – Jul 2014 and around Jan 2016. We believe these spikes occurred due to a VR congress in the UK named VR World Congress. Virtual Reality in general has a climbing trend, slow in the beginning but rising very quickly since August 2015. These spikes might occur but they also drop after a while, meaning, that there is room for improvement/differentiation.

3 | Netnography

Netnography

By doing netnographic research, we hope to answer our sub-question ““What are the current responses to Virtual Reality?” The reactions online on different types of interacting websites are perfect to compare old and new comments and reactions to see how much the online community has developed over time.

Research planning

Key words Youtube:

  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive
  • IGN
  • Review
  • Virtual reality game/Virtual reality gaming

Key words facebook:

  • Virtual reality
  • VR News
  • Virtual reality news
  • Virtual reality community
  • Oculus
  • HTC Vive
  • Samsung Gear VR

Key words for online websites & communities:

  • Virtual reality gaming
  • Gaming community
  • Gaming
  • VR forum
  • Virtual Reality development

The main search words we thought of using were, of course, Virtual Reality, VR, gaming and the main devices that Virtual Reality yet has to offer. Namely Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and the Samsung Gear VR. For our Youtube search we also used the search term IGN as it is the main online review channel on Youtube followed by several million viewers. For the research in gaming communities we mainly focused on key words with gaming as we wanted to stumble upon more general gaming websites instead of websites that are already focused on virtual reality gaming. We would already know that we would find a lot of information that would’ve supported our research question but instead we wanted to look for a more general audience and see if this would lead us to an more reliable conclusion

The objectives of our Netnography are to see whether or not the (Dutch) gaming community has adapted to Virtual Reality and is no longer shocked or surprised by its slow appearance into the gaming world.

Entrée

We definitely tried to participate in forums trying to create new platforms where our questions would be answered. But surprisingly a lot of gaming communities do not allow researchers on their blogs. And the website and communities that did allow us (GamersNET) did not have the fan base that was as interested in Virtual Reality. Luckily we found more than enough information from our observations on different types of websites and social media. Since our main goal was to find out what the different approach to Virtual Reality (gaming) was between 2012 and the present. Doing research on an passive and overt level gave us more than enough information. The community blogs and reactions on posts and videos gave us all the information on how the responses of (Dutch) gamers and their community have developed over the span of 4 years.

We have also tried to reach out to IGN on YouTube, from which we have analyzed a lot of comments on videos. However, they did not respond to our message. Therefore, we decided to continue our research after 48 hours of waiting for their response.

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Justification of our Coding

Due to the lack of time after the amount of members was reduced to 4 instead of 5 we decided to use a different way of coding our findings. We had data from 50 comments per video and a lot of different information from the Virtual Reality forum Tweakers. To code all of this information would take us way too long to code and therefore we downsized our findings and made it more compact into small tables. For every video, post or online discussion we chose to categorize all our data into different topics. Negative responses, positive responses, Shocked responses, Questions asked (only in forums and Facebook pages) and other. Creating an compact way of presenting the same data as we would with the coding we also found an more clear overview of our data making it easier to create conclusions out of it.

Data collection: Youtube

YouTube is the biggest video platform in the world. People share plenty of videos, from unboxing VR-glasses to reviews on certain games, to promo videos for certain upcoming products such as the Playstation VR. In the comment section there is always a lot of discussion, which is perfect to read and learn about the current responses and thoughts of the people.

As mentioned in an earlier blogpost, we will look at the responses to the video “How Scary is the Paranormal Activity VR Game?” by IGN. (Find the video here.) We have chosen to perform covert and passive netnography, because we believe it is not of any added value to actively ask for certain things or elicit a new discussion. People automatically respond to the same conversation as soon as they comment under a video, which is talking about what they thought of the video and /or which emotions and thoughts it evoked. We also did not send a message to the administrator stating that we will use netnography on the comments on their video, because we did unfortunately not see the opportunity via YouTube to do so.

Youtube can be seen as our main research platform. In total we searched through 11 videos looking at 50 comments for each based on their ranking as ‘best comments’. YouTube allows one to filter on ‘best comments’ or ‘newest first’. We decided to do so, because the ‘best comments’ are liked by more people – usually showing, people agree with the comment, or that it has elicited a good conversation/discussion. However, we deliberately did not include the comments on a comment (the discussion), given the reason that these comments are comments on someone else, rather than on the video.

Responses

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Coding schemes

  1. Elders react to oculus rift on

The REACT channel creates content by showing new technologies, games and other products to certain types of demographics in America. In this video, the channels shows a group of elderly three different video games through the Oculus Rift when it was still quite new and not ready for purchase yet (28-08-2014)

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Total
Frequency: 26 3 6 15 50

 

2. Teens react to Oculus Horror Game

Again the REACT channel. In this video a group of teenagers plays a new found horror game (individually) on the Oculus Rift. This video went viral on 24-04-2016, meaning that the Oculus Rift was already available for customers worldwide.

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Suggestion to play another game with VR Gear Total
Frequency: 11 6 7 26 23 out of 26 from topic ‘other’ 50

From the first 50 comments of the first two videos we hoped to see an significant difference between a video that showed the oculus Rift when it was not yet a common device (28 – 08 – 2014) and a similar video that was posted on Youtube about a month ago (24-04-2016) to see if less commenters were stunned by the VR device. But what we found is that, at around August 2014, most commenters on ‘the REACT channel’ were already quite used to  Virtual Reality. The main difference between the comparable videos is that the online society was so used to the Oculus Rift in 2016 that they started to ask or demand for other content on the Youtube channel such as other types of games and features that are now available on Virtual device.

  1. IGN review paranormal activity horror game

    Reviewers of the IGN team play the horror game ‘paranormal activity’ on the Oculus Rift in a room where they can roam free while being jump scared.

 

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Total
Frequency: 23 4 14 9 50

 

  1. IGN news report that the consumer version of the Oculus Rift is ‘near’

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Total
Frequency: 23 12 (overall comments of last year that said ‘takes too long!’) 10 5 50

 

  1. IGN oculus rift review 2016

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Compared devices Total
Frequency: 16 5 9 3 17 50

 

  1. IGN HTC Vive interview 2016

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Comparing devices Total
Frequency: 17 11 4 5 13 50

We had the same kind of discovery with the 3 different reviews we looked up. We expected the online community to be shocked and full of excitement with the review in 2014. The truth was that the Oculus Rift was introduced in 2012. Therefore by 2014 the excitement was already lowered down a bit. However, the first real Youtube review on the Oculus Rift was in 2014. And the main difference between the reviews in 2014 and 2016 are that: 1. The expectations on the Oculus Rift and Virtual Gaming were much higher believing the comments of the review in 2014. 2. In both the reviews of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in 2016 the community that comments on the video mainly uses the comment platform to open discussions about which of the VR devices is the best one to buy. We can clearly state that commenters are not just better informed about Virtual Reality but are also able to compare different options in VR head gear. This can directly relate to the question Did the response of gamers towards Virtual Reality gaming change over time? It definitely did. While in 2014 the main discussion was the question whether or not we would get Virtual Reality headsets at all the main topic of interest in more recent videos is the comparison between different devices.

 

  1. IGN review underwater game 2014

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Total
Frequency: 26 4 18 2 50

 

  1. Interview with creater of the Oculus Rift.

 

One of the first youtube videos after the start of the launch of the actual Oculus Rift.

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Where to get more information about the VR Total
Frequency: 12 1 28 9 50

The interesting part of this video is that in the comment section of the Interview with the creator of the Oculus Rift we can actually see the difference over time. From the first 50 comments we could label 28 comments as either shocked by the new technology or giving an comment that suggests he still thinks Virtual Reality is Unreal/is stunned by it. The percentage of surprised people is way higher than any other video we watched. Starting the assumption that, although our first assumptions stated that the general gamer isn’t ready for virtual reality, there is a lot of information available and people are also aware of the fact that VR gear is in production since 2012.

 

  1. Virtual reality in Public!

 

Comedy video of famous youtuber Pewdiepie about stereotyping of the Virtual Reality Headsets.

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Total
Frequency: 31 14 5 50

 

  1. Dutch youtuber reacts on Oculus rift VR game

 

Response: Positive Negative Surreal/Shocked Other Total
Frequency: 14 4 1 3 22

These two videos where both more a gimmick then that it actually provided us with usable data.

We can see that, just as all the other VR based videos, most of the commenters are positive towards VR. And that in 2016 almost nobody is shocked by it anymore.

 

Data collection: Facebook

Facebook is the biggest social media platform to date. Therefore we looked for the busiest social network pages related to Virtual Reality Gaming. And came to some surprising solutions.

Responses

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Coding schemes

  1. Oculus page (333150 likes)

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oculusvr/?fref=ts

Responses to Facebook post Excited Shocked Negative Questions asked Other Total
Post 1 3 3 1 7
Post 2 13 4 4 2 2 25
Total 13 4 7 5 3 32

 

  1. HTC Vive page (88147 likes)

HTC facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HTCVive/?fref=ts

Graffitti article: http://vrscout.com/news/htc-kingspray-vr-graffiti-simulator-x-games/

Responses to Facebook post excited shocked negative Questions asked other Comparison to other device Total
Post 1 5 1 1 3 3 13
Post 2 16 4 7 6 33
total 21 1 5 10 9 46

It was very surprising to look through the Facebook pages of both these creators of Virtual Reality content. Both pages have an respectable amount of followers on Facebook but are unable to attract more than 50 likes per post regularly. This does mean that we weren’t able to access a lot of information from both pages.

  1. Samsung Gear VR event (13749 likes)

Posts on the Facebook page since 01 – 06 – 2016 positive negative Information & Articles Questions Other Total
Frequency 12 7 28 12 2 61

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/876923609065976/?fref=ts

 

  1. Virtual Reality News (15413 likes)

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NewsVR/?fref=ts

Posts on the Facebook page since 01-02-2016 Medical Development & New Technologies Gaming Personal experiences & views total
Frequency 6 43 34 15 98

 

  1. Virtual Reality Society (1709 likes)

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VirtualRealitySociety/?fref=ts

Posts on the Facebook page since 01-05-2016 Medical Development & New Technologies Gaming Personal experiences & views total
Frequency 11 69 22 13 115

All three Facebook pages were very interesting. All sorts of knowledge and information was spread through articles, polls and comments. With the data from all three pages we found out that Gaming is one of the main topics when speaking of Virtual Reality. It still lays far behind on articles about the invention of new technologies, new funding’s and breakthroughs but is far ahead compared to other topics discussed in these VR Facebook chatrooms. Virtual Reality seems to be most demanded by the Medical and Gaming industry. But looking at the discussed topics on all three pages we can assume that the topic Gaming has a lot more to offer so far.

Data collection: Forums

Responses

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Coding Scheme

  1. GamersNET (Dutch)

Only reactions on the pages of:

GamersNET had its own research page in which you could open a forum used by and for students. We did create our own account on the website and asked the members of the website to share their experience about Virtual Reality gaming and asked some regular questions about Demographics without forcing sensitive subjects.

However, GamersNET was not as usefull as we hoped it would be. After two weeks we still did not have one reaction and the forums used for both the Playstation VR and the Oculus Rift have one comment (as can be read above). Which meant we did not receive any applicable information from this website

 

  1. Tweakers

Tweakers is one of the biggest Dutch sites specialized in technology testing and reviewing. They also have several forums in which people discuss new gadgets that are going to be launched soon or have just recently been launched.

  • Oculus experiences & discussion

http://gathering.tweakers.net/forum/list_messages/1511585

Comments between: 03 – 08 – 2012 and 03 – 09 – 2012

Total amount of comments: 54

Responses ordered Want to order Don’t want to order Total
Frequency 11 18 2 31
Responses Sharing information Positive comments Negative comments Total
Frequency 15 36 3 54

Comments between: 05 – 05 – 2016 and 05 – 06 – 2016

Total amount of comments: 88

Responses Oculus Rift at home Still in process of ordering Don’t want to order
Frequency 57 24 7 88
Responses Sharing information Positive comments Negative comments Total
Frequency 45 9 34 88

Conclusion

Since the Oculus Rift started the creation and development of Virtual reality, there have been 3 phases of approaches by the general community.

Phase 1. With the announcement of the Oculus Rift and the rise on Kickstarter the general approach was very surreal. We ourselves started our research because we felt that our childhood dream of creating Virtual Reality is now reality. This was also the general approach when searching for responses on Tweakers and several Youtube videos in 2012.

Phase 2. Around 2014 there were a lot of reviews about the Oculus Rift and even some competitors announcing its arrival that started with their own perception of creating Virtual Reality. By this time Oculus Rift had already replaced its release date several times. The general approach was a bit negative towards mainly the Oculus Rift. This was due to high expectations and maybe even a lack of patience.

Phase 3. Around the start of 2015 Oculus launched its campaign in which they made clear they rather create an solid working VR device then coming up with fast technology. This was very well received by the audience. At the same time there where a lot of new competitors launching its product in different world congresses from the HTC Vive (probably Oculus’s biggest competitor) to even the cardboard virtual Reality maker made by Google. By now the audience has a lot of information and given knowledge and is looking forward to a world in which Virtual Reality is not something surreal anymore. While there is still a gap between people who have no idea Virtual Reality has come this far already and people that follow every step along the way. We can clearly see that people know way more than we expected about the fast growing branch of Virtual Reality.

VR Gaming: is the future already here?

As we focus on the gaming aspect of Virtual Reality, we bumped into some amazing videos which give us the feeling that the future of VR Gaming is already here.

IGN, an American amusement website that focuses on games, movies, music and other media, has tested the VR Game of Paranormal Activity. This video in specific is an example of virtual reality gaming and how it could be like.

You can see how the people have their eyes covered with VR-glasses and they are wearing headphones. They hear the sound of the game and see only what the VR-glasses display. A very interesting video with promising outcomes.

In our blogpost about Netnography, we are going to discuss the comments on this video.

 

2 | Webscraping

In order to answer our research question, we must gather big data, which we will find scraping social media.

Planning

Social media platforms

Very popular social media platforms at the moment are Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. We consider the social media channels on which most users are active and share their thoughts and experiences are the most suitable for data scraping. We will be looking for hashtags, which are labels that identify messages on a specific topic.

Currently 41% of all Facebook members (1,5 billion) is an active member (Mander, 2015) and as they are seeing a decline in active members, it may not be as suitable for data scraping. Also from our own experience we see in our environment that most people use Facebook to read and scroll through their newsfeed, rather than updating their status or posting somewhere. However, we will use Facebook for our netnographic research. (Read about our netnography here.)

Tumblr is a popular microblogging platform with 555 million active blogs. (Statista, 2016) Many bloggers post pictures or GIF’s and there are also posts without images, but all posts have in common that they are labelled with hashtags.

Instagram reached 400 million monthly active users in September 2015. (Kharpal, 2015) In our own environment, many people use Instagram to post their daily life pictures, but also special occasions and experiences: It is not for no reason people say a picture is worth a thousand words. Of course, people will also use Instagram to go through their feed, but we reckon most users are active users. A big advantage of Instagram is that the use of hashtags is very popular, making it easy to collect big data.

In short, we are going to collect data from Tumblr and Instagram.

Please note: due to a policy change of Instagram since June 2016, the Instagram Hashtag Explorer is not working anymore. We did not succeed in finding an alternative tool. Therefore, we were not able to scrape data from Instagram, except for #VRgaming. Our apologies. The rest of the data will all be scraped from Tumblr.

Tools of our choice

The tool we will use for Tumblr is the TumblrTool, which can be found at digitalmethods.net. Because digitalmethods is one of Europe’s leading Internet Studies research groups, we believe they have developed the best and reliable tool available for scraping Tumblr.

The same reason applied for why we used the Instagram Hashtag Explorer from digitalmethods.net.

Keywords / Keyphrases & Hashtags

With scraping data and analysing it, we attempt to answer the sub-question “What are the current responses to Virtual Reality?” We will search for the following hashtags, divided in the following subcategories:

  1. Virtual reality gaming: Our research question looks at how the responses of the Dutch gamers have developed towards VR. We want to focus on the gaming aspect of Virtual Reality for the main research question, hence the VR gaming hashtag.

#VRgaming

  1. Virtual reality: It is important for us to know what the responses in general are towards Virtual Reality. These hashtags are also the most likely to answer our sub-question.

#VR

#VirtualReality 

  1. Virtual Reality Devices: Users are likely to ‘label’ their post with the device the post is about (using / looking forward to /etc.). Since we want to know what they think about Virtual Reality, we hope to find review-like posts when looking for the VR Devices.

#OculusRift

#HTC Vive

#SamsungGearVR

#PlaystationVR

Collecting the data

For every hashtag, we chose to pick 20 iterations, which is good for 400 items. We think that any smaller amount will not give a representative outcome and a bigger amount will give too much information to process. We decided to scrape the latest posts, instead of giving a timeframe because we are investigating the current responses. Therefore, the latest posts are indeed the most current.

One big difficulty is the changing of Instagram’s policy. Since June 2016, Instagram has changed its policy, making it impossible to run the Instagram Hashtag Explorer. Therefore, we have only been able to use this tool for #VRgaming. This could be a point of improvement, although it is not digitalmethods’ fault a policy has changed. Nevertheless, there could or should be some way to make Hashtag Exploring on Instagram possible again.

Visualizing the data

We have used the layout Force Atlas 2, because this is a very clear layout which give a nice overview. To enhance the readability and prevent the labels from fully overlapping, we used the ‘prevent overlap’ function. We also applied the function ‘dissuaded hubs’, pushing hubs to the borders.

Furthermore, we used a filter to make our graph clearer. According to the count percentages, most hashtags are at least combined 1 to 3 times. To find the real connections, we therefore decided to filter most graphs on the count of 4, except for #VRgaming which was set to the count of 5. Meaning, we only want to see hashtags in the graph that have been used in combination with the main hashtag at least four times. (in the case of #VRgaming: five times).

Interpreting the data

#VRgaming

VRgaming graph final2
#VRgaming on Instagram

In the centre we find our main hashtag, #VRgaming. Not surprisingly, the hashtags that are combined with VRgaming are #gaming, #virtualreality, #vr, (thus, virtual reality) #oculusrift, and #htcvive (two devices for VR gaming).

What we found very interesting is how on the right side of the graph most tags can be found related to gaming and there some platforms are mentioned, such as Xbox One and PS3 (Playstation 3), while on the right side there is a cluster that is about design, wearables and Eindhoven with hashtags such as #eindhovendesign, #fashiontech, #manusvr and #vrglove.

When searching on Instagram for #eindhovendesign again, it does not require too much effort to find the first post with #eindhovendesign combined with #vrgaming and #manusvr. There is a technical University in Eindhoven, where they organize a (technical) designerweek every year. Doing a quick desk research on #manusvr also leads to a website from a start-up company in Eindhoven, that has developed the first consumer virtual reality glove. The results of this designer week and of the Manus VR are also posted on Instagram, which explains the cluster.

On the down side of the graph, there are some hashtags that display what users think about #vrgaming. We can see here #awesome, #nerd and #instagood. Both #awesome and #instagood refer to a positive response, while #nerd can either be sarcastic, or meant serious. We cannot assume this is a negative response, but we would not categorize it as positive. Out of this complete graph, we have found two positive and one uncategorized responses.

#VR

 

VR graph final
#VR on Tumblr

#VR is often connected #VirtualReality. We expected this to happen, as VR is short for Virtual Reality. What we noticed is that even though in this hashtag there is no ‘gaming’, it is connected with gaming-hashtags, such as #gaming, #games and #gameplay. We can learn from this that VR is also often associated with the gaming industry.

Other hashtags that stand out are again the VR devices, #OculusRift, #HTCVive, #Samsung, and even #GoogleCardboard. The remaining hashtags do not provide any information on how people perceive VR, which perhaps is a limitation of this chosen keyword. Our main learning point from this graph remains that #VR is associated with gaming, which is a confirmation for us that the gaming side of Virtual Reality is indeed where the public interest is.

#VirtualReality

Virtual Reality graph final
#VirtualReality on Tumblr

Before visualizing this graph, we expected the outcome of #VirtualReality to be more or less similar to our previous hashtag, #VR, as it is just an abbreviation of Virtual Reality. However, we actually found some connections that we did not find with #VR. Again, there are several hashtags of the devices (brands) connected. (#OculusRift, #HTCVive, #Samsung)

Just as in our previous graph with #VR, people have associated #VirtualReality with gaming hashtags, such as #gaming, #gamer, #videogames, but also #nintendo. Nintendo is the world’s largest video game company and we think the assiocation between Nintendo and #VirtualReality might be another indication that Virtual Reality indeed has a certain connection with gaming.

What we see here in the graph of #VirtualReality are connections with more professional related things, as #architecture, #business strategies, #business, #marketing, but also #Elon Musk. The relation between architecture, business strategies, business or marketing with virtual reality can be explained by thinking of the other possibilities that virtual reality provides. The relation between Elon Musk, the big business magnate, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, co-founder of SolarCity, Paypal, and more (Bio., 2016) and Virtual Reality is a little harder to make. When consulting the Internet, we can see several news items pop up about Elon Musk, saying he believes we are all living in a simulation. The news item dates back from 3 June, 2016 and this data scraping is done on 5 June, 2016. Since Tumblr is a microblog, it is most likely people have posted some blogs about this statement by Elon Musk. This explains the relation between #Elon Musk and #VirtualReality.

#OculusRift

Oculus Rift graph final
#OculusRift on Tumblr

This graph is about #OculusRift, the device “where it all started” for the majority of the society, and hashtags it is associated with.

Previously, we have described how so far all hashtags have been connected to the VR devices. We also wanted to look at the VR devices, in the hopes of retrieving information on how Tumblr users respond to Virtual Reality.

Knowing that, it is no surprise we see four dark blue hashtags in the core of the graph that are interconnected: #OculusRift, #Oculus, #VR and #VirtualReality.

Oculus Rift was developed with gaming intentions, which explains why there are so many gaming hashtags on the right side of the graph. This time not only #gamer, #videogames, #playstationvr, but also some games pop up: #fallout4, #minecraft, #starwars.

On the top side of the graph, there are some tags related to Google Cardboard, the cheapest “VR device” available, which is more or less a counter movement against the very high priced Oculus Rift. The other available VR devices, such as HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR are also mentioned here.

When we look at some other hashtags, we find #kids #react, #scary, #funny, #fun, #horror, almost like there has been a sentence made out of hashtags. We think this is the case and this can be explained. In doing our research, we have come across all kinds of information and have seen some “people react to”-videos. We suspect that the hashtags are coming from a blog with possibly a “people / kids react to Oculus Rift”. Nevertheless, we can still use these hashtags in building towards an answer to our sub-question.

The hashtags #scary and #horror indicate that most likely a horror game was played and the people found it scary. At the same time, #fun and #funny are positive responses to the Oculus Rift. In the top of the graph, there is also #vrhavingaproblem, which we code as a negative response.. When we look at the colour of the node, the darker blue the more often it is used/associated with the core hashtag #OculusRift. This means that people have associated #fun and #funny more often with #OculusRift than #vrhavingaproblem. More hashtags should be related to how people experienced the Oculus Rift /VR to get a better overview of people’s experience, but from what is available now, it seems people mostly had a positive response to the Oculus Rift / VR.

#HTCVive

HTC Vive graph final
#HTCVive on Tumblr

#HTCVive is another VR Device that is already becoming very popular, thanks to exposure in videos of for example IGN. The hashtags that are most associated with HTC Vive are, #VR, #VirtualReality, #HTC, #Oculus and #Gaming. Logically, the device is associated with Virtual Reality itself. Looking at the green coloured hashtags, we again find a lot of gaming hashtags (mostly on the downside of the graph). #gamer, #videogames, #game, #gaming, #ps4. Interesting enough, there are some hashtags that have to do with google, namely #googlecardboard, but also #playstore and #googleplay. This might be because the HTC Vive can be paired with your HTC phone and has developed apps for that.

Another thing that stands out for us is #art and #tiltbrush. Google has launched an app for the HTC Vive called Tilt Brush, which allows the user to paint in 3D space with virtual reality. (For more information on how this looks like, check this introduction video for the Tilt Brush by Google)

#SteamVR is a hashtag that is associated with HTC Vive, because Steam is an entertainment platform and gaming community that works together with HTC Vive.

Again we see #react, which is probably associated with HTC Vive because of the “People react”-videos, as earlier explained. Unfortunately, this time, we find no specific emotions or responses towards HTC Vive near the react-hashtag.

Unfortunately, we also see #vrhavingaproblem again: a negative response. Nevertheless, we see #thefuture and #thefutureisnow in the right side bottom, which are more often used than #vrhavingaproblem. These hashtags are used to indicate excitement about how the future is so nearby already. We consider these hashtags as positive responses.

#SamsungGearVR

Samsung gear graph final
#SamsungGearVR on Tumblr

The first thing that we noticed is how this graph looks different with more distant clusters than the other graphs, while we have used the exact same layout (with ForceAtlas 2) and have had a filter from the count of 4 (for 400 items).

What we can see here is #SamsungGearVR being surrounded by #Samsung (the brand), #Oculus (another VR Device), #VR, #GearVR and #Virtual Reality. On top of that and closely around that, we see a lot of hashtags that are related to Samsung itself. #SamsungGalaxy, #SamsungGalaxyNote4, #Galaxys7edge, etcetera. At the end of February, around the time of the Mobile World Congress (#mobileworldcongress2016, #mwc2016), Samsung announced all pre-ordered Galaxy S7 Edge come with a free Gear VR. (Miles, 2016)

Besides that, the Gear VR is another device that makes use of a telephone as a screen, unlike the Oculus with a build-in screen. That is most likely the reason why there are many Samsung telephone models as hashtags.

On the right side, we can find a cluster about blogging: #bloggerstyle, #blogger, #blog, etc. As mentioned before, Tumblr is a microblogging platform, which could clear up why there are hashtags about it. However, another explanation could be that a blogger has reviewed the Samsung Gear VR for example. There are no signs of this scenario, but we cannot eliminate the option.

On the left side, there is a cluster about different types of fans: #applewatchfans, #samsunggearvrfans, #virtuarealityfans, etc. Although it is unclear to us what an explanation for this cluster could be, these hashtags show support for Virtual Reality and the Samsung Gear VR. Again, positive responses to VR.

#PlaystationVR

Playstation VR graph final
#PlaystationVR on Tumblr

In the middle we see #PlaystationVR, with close around it #Playstation, #PS4, #gaming, #sony. These hashtags are all connected to #PlaystationVR, because the PlaystationVR is a device developed by Sony Playstation, intended for gaming in Virtual Reality on the Playstation 4. This also explains all the gaming hashtags. In previous graphs, we also found many gaming hashtags, however, the PlaystationVR will only be intended for gaming. That makes the connection even stronger between Virtual Reality, PlaystationVR and gaming.

The PlaystationVR will be released October 2016, which is the reason of #October #2016 #nerdnews. (Playstation, 2016)

On the outside of the graph, the games Until Dawn, Uncharted and Star Wars Battlefront are mentioned (#untildawn, #starwarsbattlefront, #starwars, #battlefront, #uncharted4, #uncharted) Close to the core there is #4theplayers, the slogan of Playstation 4.

Two other game related hashtags can be found on the right down-side of the graph, #tgs and #tgs2015. Doing a little desk research, shows that tgs stands for Tokyo Game Show: “an annual convention where publishers and developers around the world show off the hottest upcoming video games.” (IGN, 2016)

What was very noticeable for us, was that other VR Devices are not so prominently present in the core of this graph, while with other graphs most of the devices were all in the centre. We can still see #Oculus and #HTCVive, but it is pushed more outwards.

Another thing that stood out is the amount of positive associations with and excited responses to PlaystationVR. In the graph we can see #awesome, #thefutureisnow, #beyondreality, #gameon, etc. These hashtags clearly are positive and show excitement towards the PlaystationVR.

Conclusion

All graphs showed some positive hashtags. However, these few positive hashtags are not enough evidence of a positive response towards Virtual Reality. A big limitation about data scraping is the sorts of data you gather. Although hashtags are very useful in labeling images and text, it does not allow us to thoroughly analyse the information.

We need to perform netnographic research, to confirm our current findings and to gain more insights in the discussions and responses of the people.

1 | Research Proposal

Introduction & Background

The gaming industry is changing rapidly over a short period of time. Gamers are always seeking for a new technology that will enhance their gaming experience. In the last few years, consoles and mobile games have taken over the market. With the features they have, it has successfully reached a broad target audience and changing the geeky image of gaming towards mainstream appeal. However, as it was mentioned earlier that gaming industry is evolving, the new trends is now coming up to the surface and try to penetrate the market, and this new technology is called Virtual Reality or VR.

Virtual reality is actually has been around in the gaming industry for quite some time. The first attempted to enter the market was from Nintendo with their Virtual Boy in 1995. Unfortunately for them, this device was failed to enter the market due to the poor design they had (Morris, 2015).

In 2013 a company named Oculus VR, launched Oculus Rift VR gear to the public. It successfully attracted the attentions of gamers in all over the world with the technology that the gear has; such as, integrated VR audio, Xbox One controller compatibility and Oculus touch. However, Oculus Rift VR is not the only one in the industry right now. Following the successful of Oculus Rift, there are at least two another companies is on set to release their VR gear. PlayStation VR is scheduled to hit the market at quarter two in 2016, meanwhile HTC Vive VR in Q1 (Handova, 2016)

There are actually some VR or AR headsets that already in the market. Most of them are for android phone extensions like Samsung Gear VR and Zeiss VR One. Although these gears is not directly a competitor for Gaming gears like Oculus VR, but these gears at least give some insight on how VR works to more broader market (Stuart, 2015)

The reaction of the gamers towards the VR, when it was first introduced is quite varied, rather 50-50. Some has responded positively by saying this gears can brings there gaming experience to the new level. Many even said that, the newness of virtual reality would for sure pique consumer interest, even including non-gamers.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate what are the responses of the gaming community towards Virtual Reality after the release of the Oculus Rift VR.  In order to make this project specific, we choose Dutch gaming community as our subject to research.

Before continuing with our research, we must define the concept of Virtual Reality.

Virtual Reality is the use of computer technology to create the effect of an interactive three-dimensional world in which the objects have a sense of spatial presence.

Steve Bryson, 2013

Research Question

How have the responses of the Dutch gamers developed towards Virtual Reality in the context of gaming since the introduction of the Oculus Rift in 2013?

Sub-questions we pose in order to answer our research questions are:

  • What is the Dutch gaming community like?
    • How popular is gaming?
    • Who are the gamers?
      • Age, gender?
    • What consoles are most used?
      • Xbox, PS, PC?
  • What were the initial responses to the Oculus Rift upon launch in 2013?
  • What are the current responses to Virtual Reality?

Research design & methodology

For this research project we have chosen to use this research methods: netnography, data visualization and trend analysis.

Netnography

As it explained by Robert V. Kozinets in ‘The Field Behind the Screen: Using Netnography For Market Research in Online Communities’, netnography or ethnography of internet is a new qualitative research methodology that adapts ethnograpic research techniques to the study of cultures and emerging through computer-mediated communications. In other words, netnography is a method to utilize the information that appeared in public about a specific matter, for later to be studied and identified the needs and decision from appropriate online group.

In our opinion, this method was the most appropriate method to be used in order for us to get the authentic behaviors from the public, or in our case is the gaming community in The Netherlands. In addition, netnography has also provides us with a window into naturally occurring behaviors, such as searches for information by, and communal word-of-mouth discussion between consumers (Kozinets, 2002). As for our project, the implementation of this method will be for us to dive inside three gaming communities in The Netherlands. The sampling method used for this method will be simple random and the data collected are qualitative.

We will be using GamersNET as it’s a Dutch gaming website so we hope to get some responses in their forums. Next we intend to use is Tweakers which is also a Dutch website but this one specializes in new technologies and other new devices. We hope to find information about the oculus rift, about experiences and any discussions. IGN is a very popular site, both internationally and in the Netherlands. But in order to use the info from GamersNET, Tweakers and IGN, we will contact the administrators and ask for permission. Facebook is the biggest social media platform therefore we thought it would be a good idea to include Facebook pages about VR and VR gaming into out netnography. Last but not least, and probably the most important, will be YouTube. YouTube is widely known as the biggest video sharing website. With each video there is a comment section and the way it works is, the comments with the most likes are most likely to be on top. Meaning not only 1 person but several people agree with 1 comment and thus sharing that same comment. The same can be applied to Facebook comments.

Trend Analysis

Trend analysis method is needed in this research in order to analyze the current phenomena. Google Trends is a useful tool which gives great insight in what people have been looking for on Google. We have searched for the keywords ‘Virtual reality’, ‘VR’, ‘oculus rift’, ‘Playstation VR’ and ‘VR gaming’ for 2016 (January – May 2016) in the Netherlands.

Trend Analysis VR2

Things that stand out to us are the high search rate for ‘VR’ in 21-27 February (100 hits) and  13-19 March (95 hits), as is the relative higher search rate for ‘Playstation VR’ in 13-19 March (14 hits). This can be explained as Playstation announced their VR set in February – and promised to publish more information March 15th.

Webscraping

Webscraping is a computer software technique used to extract information from websites, it automatically collects the info. We want to use Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. The reason for these four is because they are the most active and probably most popular forms of social media platforms. Knowing that a lot of people are active on these platforms ensures us that we will be able to find sufficient info.

The hashtags used for tumblr are: vrgaming, vr, virtualreality, oculusrift, htc vive, samsunggearvr and playstationvr. By the use of these hashtags we hope to answer one of our sub questions on the responses towards virtual reality.

Data Visualization

Data visualization is a process or a technology, in which data is converted into a representative image of human viewing, in the visuals form like graphs, charts and lists. Data visualization can help users to access and understand data quickly (Business Intelligence, 2016).

We will use Gephi to visualize our collected data in graphs.

1.3 Online Search

Trends Analysis

Interest over time

The graph shows the popularity of keywords “Virtual reality” and “Oculus rift” only in the Netherlands from July 2013 until July 2016. As we can see, Virtual Reality hits it peaks on Google in April 2016; presumably this is because on the 12th of April 2016, there was a VR World Congress which located in Bristol UK. Also from this graph, it shows us that the trends of Virtual Reality, at least on the Google, are growing. Even though there are some moments of decline, but it is just a slightly declining. On the other hand, for the keywords Oculus Rift, the trend of it is rather unstable. The peak of the popularity of Oculus Rift was at March 2014. While at the same time Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook agreed to acquire Oculus for $2billion. After that, the popularity of Oculus rift seems to decreasing gradually until in January 2016, it hits its peak again. The reason behind this, is because on January 2016 Oculus announced on their official website that started from January 6, the pre-order for Oculus Rift VR is open with the price of $600.

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Interest based on location

The next two graphs is showing the same category as the first graph, same period of time as well, but the popularity is based on the country. Surprisingly, from the seven countries with highest popularity on key words “Virtual reality”, the Netherlands is the number one. Furthermore, in the smaller scope of the EU, Netherlands is also number one before the United Kingdom in number 6 overall. However, for the key words “Oculus Rift”, the Netherlands is nowhere on the list. Oculus Rift seems to be so popular in the European countries as the graph shows us that 5 from the 7 countries in the list were from the EU, and the majority of them were Scandinavian countries. The conclusion we can get for these graphs is the Netherlands gaming community is more interested about the Virtual Reality technology rather than the brand of Oculus Rift.

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Other Online examples

The latest data from Greenlight VR, the VR market intelligence firm, suggests over $136M was raised by VR startups only on the month of November 2015. This is an example that shows the development of VR that rapidly increasing. This could be happened because the investors are seeing this industry as an exciting and young industry, where there is lots of room to play and compete. The study also indicates that the customer interest in VR technology is in line with the higher level of investment. Therefore, the interest and demand level is quite balance in the industry (Smith, 2015)

1.2 Literature review

Literature Review

Gaming industry in The Netherlands

Gaming is a massive industry in the Netherlands right now. There are approximately 330 games companies located in The Netherlands that together brings roughly 3,000 jobs. In 2011 the turnover of the industry has reached 150-225 million euros. It shows that, there is a rapid growth in the industry without any signs of slowing down (Evelien Boshove, 2013).

According to Deloitte Netherlands on their market study on Dutch gaming industry, the growth of Dutch games markets are mainly comes from social, mobile and portal gaming. However, the consoles might take over the majority of the market with the new generations of gaming consoles (Deloitte, 2011)

game1

Furthermore, the development of Virtual Reality in The Netherland is growing quite rapidly. Right now, there are approximately 30 VR companies in the Netherlands and they are highly concentrated in the content creation or the end of the supply chain. This growing number of start-up company is also because of the support of the government. For example, Dutch government has recently instituted the start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs (Bozorgadeh, 2016). This visa scheme, of course, will directly or in-directly affect the growth of the Dutch gaming industry in the future.

According to Newzoo around 8 million Dutch citizens play video games occasionally. Out of these 8 million gamers, 6.9 million game on the computer, 4.9 million game on their phone, 2.8 million play on smaller consoles like the PSP, 4.3 play on consoles and 1.1 million use all four different platforms (Musters, 2013). Out of all 13 to 19 year olds who play video games, 95% are boys and 85% are girls and they spend an average of 10 and 4 h per week. In a study from 2013, there were 373 participants. According to the study, 47% had access to a Wii, 95% had access to a PC at home, 52% to a PlayStation and 23% to an Xbox (Simons, 2013).

The current situation and the future of VR in the gaming industry

The trends of the industry has undergone a rapid change lately, Virtual Reality or VR has entered the market and it is successfully attracted the gamers who used to consoles. There is nothing unusual about this shifting of the trends; as technology has progressed, gamers tend to move to another technology that can enhance the gaming experience, by means of new gaming concepts and appealing graphic. Virtual Reality is not a completely new player in the gaming industry, many attempts have been made to penetrate the market but none of them was successful. But VR companies is different right now, they have a huge supporting capitals on their backs. Oculus Rift for example, was started as a kick-starter campaign until Facebook purchased them in March 2014 for some $400 million and $1.6 billion in stock (Morris, 2014). With this huge capital they have, allowing the company to explore the technology even more and selling their product to broader audience. Other big companies has also stepping their way into VR industry; such as, HTC with HTC VIVE and SONY with SONY’s Playstation VR, which will hook into Playstation 4.

The future of VR is also interesting to see. Because the hype of VR is quite new in the market, therefore there are many possibilities can happen. However, a recent study from Futuresource Consulting found that 39% from 3,000 consumers in The U.S. and Western Europe were most attracted in watching TV or experiencing VR movies, followed closely by games with 38%, TV/Music video 27%, educational content 26% and sports 26%. Same study also predicted that by 2020 the VR content market could reach $8.3 billion (Baumgartner, 2016). Moreover, according to Business Insider, the VR headset shipments will be growing at a 99 percent CAGR between 2015 and 2020, reaching $30 billion by that end date.

game2

The obstacles of VR into entering the industry

However, the idea of a screen strapped into your face might not sound appealing for some people. Some even linked it to the health and safety issue, research has found that VR can cause motion sickness, such as seizures, loss of awareness, eyestrain and nausea (Lewis, 2015). It is even stated on the Samsung Gear VR disclaimer that, “Prolonged use should be avoided, as this could negatively impact hand-eye coordination, balance and multitasking ability.”

Other than that, the price point of VR is also an obstacle of them into entering the market. The available VR in the market now on sale for $599, therefore the market is seeing VR as a “premium product”. VR is only a supporting console to enhance the faming experience, meaning VR should be used together with other gaming consoles. This is the main problem for VR company; for example, gamers who spends more then $2,300 on a high-end PC will need to pay 600$ for one Oculus Rift VR, this will be just too much for most of gamers. With the big capitals backing them up now, they should rethink their premium price point (Handova, 2016).

1.1 Abstract

Since the launch in 2013 of the popular virtual reality device, the Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality has gotten more attention by the public, especially the gaming public. This study focuses on how the responses of the Dutch gamers have developed towards Virtual Reality in the context of gaming since the introduction of the Oculus Rift in 2013. By using a trend analysis, current trends were spot. After that, we have continued our research with big data scraping, using the Instagram Hashtag Explorer and the TumblrTool. Netnographic research was also conducted and gave us more insights in how the people really react to Virtual Reality. The results show that most Instagram and Tumblr-users already have the association of Virtual Reality and gaming. Although there are different VR devices, they all seem to be equally popular as the Virtual Reality market is still a very niche market. This shows that there is room for improvement in marketing and communication strategies, in order for one brand to stand out and perhaps become the market leader. The responses of the Dutch gaming public vary, but have been improving over time. Initially in 2012 people have had troubles believing the presence of virtual reality, later in 2014 there were no VR devices for the consumer, but nowadays, 2016, people are mostly positive, interested and eager to try out any virtual reality gear, if they do not own a device yet. Our initial expectations were for the Netherlands to be falling behind on America’s developments in virtual reality considering the consumers, but this has not been the case and the consumers in the Netherlands are interested in virtual reality. Further implications of this study are discussed.

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