Children Test Out 'Oculus Rift' In Landmark Study, VR Headset Could Be Game Changer In Education, Kids Demand 'Minecraft'

By Steve Buja , Updated Jun 24, 2014 10:48 AM EDT
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There was a time when, if a man asked a group of children if they wanted to test out his "Oculus Rift", he would be arrested on a multitude of charges. Nowadays, though, not only does no one think it's weird, but they end up calling it 'science'. Dubit, a youth research and digital entertainment firm, recently carried out a program to test what children think of the Oculus Rift headset, the virtual reality game-changer that has us all chomping at the bit. The results are, unsurprising, overwhelmingly positive.

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The study consisted of a sample size of 12 children, aged 7 to 12. The kids played a variety of games from the first development kit version and were then split off into pairs to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the Oculus Rift.

 "The overarching message from our sessions is that children love using Oculus Rift and felt immersed in the games in ways they've never felt before! Comments along the lines of it being the best way to play games were common. Oculus VR may not see children as their core market but there's no doubting the device's potential popularity with kids." said Peter Robinson, Dubit's head of research. He noted that while the children had some trouble getting the headset on, the kids did not have any ill effects from wearing it for too long, but noted that the head movements could be a strain on younger players. However, with lighter headsets on the way "we don't see Oculus Rift causing many usability issues for young wearers."

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What was also striking was that many kids saw the potential of the Oculus Rift in not just entertainment, but in education. The headset could make education come alive and instead of having a teacher explain about geography or history, the Oculus Rift would allow students to travel there and interact with the environment or historical figures. Robinson noted that "education was identified as a key theme." Thankfully, they didn't sample teenagers, because I'm pretty sure education is still, like, totally square. Or something.

While the efficacy of the Rift in first person shooters is prominent - the boys in particular said that a first person shooter like Call of Duty would be awesome - the entire group stressed the exploration potential of the headset. Imagine Skyrim or The Witcher in Oculus Rift. Go anywhere, do anything. User Generated Content (UGC) games like Minecraft are also something that the kids were excited for.

Said Robinson, "We didn't have the heart to tell them that Notch had refused to bring his game to the system due to the Facebook acquisition - maybe now he'll reconsider."

These focus groups are the first in a number of internal research projects being carried out by Dubit on the new technology. Their work in virtual reality began with their first virtual world for Oculus Rift, Fairy Forest. Over the next six months the agency is will publish further work, this time with the University of Sheffield, that looks to provide understanding of how children engage with entertainment across devices and platforms.

You can check out the slideshare of Dubit's full findings on this topic below!

  Oculus Rift (Virtual Reality) Kids Research  from Dubit 
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