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.

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