I am coming up to my year in Altspace and AussieGuy92.com, which is one year old on new years eve this year (2021). And it’s been quite a journey so far in the sense of seeing and experiencing new places in VR that I didn’t find in any other VR app when I joined.

When I joined, my city had just come out of a brief Covid-19 lockdown, and I felt a real sense of loneliness in my house. Living alone and maybe being considered socially awkward enough, it was tough mentally to stay positive and feel a level of sanity after being cooped up in your house during the lockdown.

VR has been my secret for getting through Covid Lockdowns

When I found Altspace, my local lockdown had just recently been lifted, and it had me kicking myself on the first day, wishing I had it weeks prior. Since being on the platform, I have been through another Covid lockdown but being on Altspace had me laughing and partying every day in my house and kept me socialising.

I remember one particular moment when I took off my headset after having a long night of VR is taking off my headset and reality sinking in for a moment I was in lockdown. Still, I reflected on my emotions and state of mind and compared my energy to my prior years coming home from a night out on the town.

The Covid-19 pandemic has kept me in VR everyday for a year

Okay, so maybe technically not ‘VR’ every day, but we will get into that. I can say that I’ve been on Altspace every day since I have joined, and the amount of time has varied from 10 minutes to 18 hours depending on my workload and my mood. There have always been plenty of reasons to sign in each day, from events to spontaneous parties in a friend’s home space to holographic displays in VR, increasing in frequency as the technology becomes more accessible and affordable to consumers.

For me, outside of managing my website and documentation, I enjoy world-building with Unity and learning to make textures and meshes from scratch and sharing what I know with the community. This has not just kept my mind busy and happy during these uncertain times but has given me something to strive for.

Lockdown tonight? No worries mate!

I’m writing this as an Australian, but I am sure most cities can relate to the chaos that unfolds when a curfew is announced or comparable to an unusual weather event where people flock to the nearest supermarkets for supplies. Something I experienced earlier in 2020 is people would find an excuse to go down to the shops just to see people, connect all in the name of ‘getting the essentials’. Thankfully I was someone with a small bar fridge and relied on going to the shops almost daily before Covid – so I genuinely had a reason to leave my house, but it was interesting seeing the same people there shopping more frequently.

A few months ago, the lockdown was announced during the morning for 6 PM that evening, I was at work at the time, and there was a sudden urgency and panic in the air. People were calling their families to let them know the news, and I was sitting at my desk carrying on with my work as per usual once I was told I could work from home.

Suddenly, I was turning this anxious-negative event that was seemingly affecting everyone hysterically around me into something I was looking forward to. Not only didn’t I have to travel to work and home, but it allowed me to be around during busier times on Altspace. Although it was tempting to sneak onto Altspace during work hours at home, those hours flew by so quick because I was just keen to open up a bottle of beer after work and relax on the platform. The brief lockdown honestly felt like a short working holiday at home, experiencing whacky and beautiful worlds.

Signing in on 2D has been my main device this year and I still enjoying Altspace even using 2D on PC.

So I have a gaming machine. It’s semi-modern enough, but I usually have no issues running Unity, tethered to Altspace over air-link. But most of the time, I sign in on 2D, especially for world and kit testing. Some of the users of Altspace go through a stage where they dislike 2D users because they are less ‘present’ and then end up using 2D more later when they develop their world-building skills and realise the convenience of 2D for themselves. 2D allows anyone with a semi-recent PC or Mac to sign in and socialise without being committed to having a device on their heads. This makes Altspace possible to be used to demo the platform before committing to buying a VR headset.

Another reason people use 2D is that some people can’t handle having a headset on for long periods but still want to participate. A user can switch to a PC to recover and change back into a headset once they have had a break.

2D has also allowed me to remain productive and fulfil household chores without throwing my avatar to the ground every 5 minutes when I take off my headset to do something. 2D access has allowed me to take a break from VR without taking a break from my friends and commitments on the platform, which I think is an excellent compromise for most.