Walking into a bar or nightclub alone and striking up a conversation with a stranger is daunting for the majority of people. By nature, most people have insecurities which inhibit them from doing such a thing. But now, the latest addition to the world of virtual reality enables people to feel comfortable doing exactly that. Based within an application inside Facebook, Dot Friends allows users to determine exactly how they look, what they wear and even how they move on the dance floor.
The application, which is currently in Beta, lets users choose which places to “enter” anywhere in the world. Bars and nightclubs are represented by drop pins on a world map and on entering users are transported to a graphically enhanced experience of being inside a bar or club. And that’s just where the fun begins.
Within each environment users can select videos which are played out on a big screen within the bar or club. Virtual currency is used to buy drinks which can be given to anyone in the club. With public and private chat functionality, users can strike up conversations with strangers or chat with a group of friends. A choice of customized dance moves enables the user’s avatar to become the center of attention on the dance floor. Alternatively, users can choose to sit at tables or by the bar and just quietly take in all the action.
Similar to the early days of online chat rooms, Dot Friends is the next generation of socializing within the already social environment of Facebook. Dot Friends will also soon be giving users the chance to create their own bars and nightclubs and take control of their own virtual environment. Unlike online chat rooms, the virtual world created by Dot Friends is full of unleashed potential.
Brands have already begun to approach Dot Friends in order to ‘own’ customized social environments in order to promote products. Until now, f-Commerce has not been successful and the sale of goods within Facebook has not taken off as expected. This has been identified by brands being unable to understand the psychology of social consumers and correctly engage in social interaction. Now brands have the chance to interact with users in a zone where the user already feels comfortable. They can additionally speak directly with brand representatives, ask questions and receive real-time answers. This makes the social interaction and engagement of users through Fan Pages a thing of the past.
Dot Friends have a plan to add a whole host of features and functionality to their existing virtual world. The potential to add new venues such as coffee shops, libraries which can be connected to online reading areas, celebrity zones with celebrity interaction, picture and art galleries displaying inspirational and original work, television shows, supermarkets, clothes stores, dating areas – is endless.
For users, the attraction is initially the same as the eagerness to be a part of online chat rooms in the late 90’s. The thing that will keep users returning is the age of social in which we now live and the sometimes necessary urge to temporarily escape the madness of the real world.