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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.