Developer VR HOT and their desktop/VR game with the same name just released an update 0.9.9 which among various things like improved clothing, additional customization options etc. now includes the much-requested green room. What’s that you ask? Well, with the green room enabled as a play-space, this means in conjunction with the Virtual Desktop app and Quest 3‘s colour passthrough, you can now have a pretty cool virtual-girlfriend type experience in your own room as you can see in the videos below. The character from the game appears as a model who resides in your home in full 3D.
Warning though, whilst you can talk with the chat AI, customize and pose the model like many other VR experiences, there is a focus on adult content.
Now, before you scoff (undoubtedly, some of you will), this is pretty cool tech and regardless of the wants-and-desires of the user, it will offer companionship for those who either want to have fun, or those who actually need a figure to talk to due to things like depression or low self-esteem. Before thinking negatively or making ill-informed jokes about this project, please think outside-of-the-box a little where eventually projects like this could actually help people.
We are hoping the developers of this title work on a mainstream version. Imagine being an outlet for people who need someone to talk to. Or the elderly who might feel a little lonely at times? Either way, there’s something special about having a character that you can interact with, move around and view from any angle in three dimensions, as well as have a unique chat within your own space. Consider it as you will akin to an advanced character in an RPG, taking the “role-play” in the literal sense, because that’s what this game is essentially. It’s Ana de Armas’ Joi, the domestic partner from Blade Runner 2049 in her basic form which seemed to work well for Ryan Gosling’s character K despite him being a replicant.
The digital companion idea is quite a common theme in video-games and science-fiction, however, is becoming a reality. The future then, is quite interesting as this technology improves. We are hoping for things like room scanning, so the model can automatically sit on your furniture, navigate your room’s contours, employ advanced chat AI, and of course autonomous actions. Maybe one day he or she can order food for you both and you’ll be able to sit and watch a movie together. Perhaps an option to stop the AI from talking through the entire movie would be wise (joking obviously). The AI is programmable to a degree though, so imagine a particular character that simply keeps spoiling the movie for you. A bit far-fetched perhaps as of now, but the possibilities are quite interesting to think about especially when considering this level of discourse within other genres of video games. Characters with more personality that you are tasked with either killing or letting them live (as we see in games like Cyberpunk 2077) could tug on player emotions more if AI driven and conjure stories on the fly that impact your decisions. VR HOT’s characters already create a far deeper player connection thanks to the chat AI, compared to the canned responses the game previously employed. Whist still slow to respond and somewhat goofy at times, the character transforms from a sexually driven doll, to something that transcends the mere sexual activity the developers presented prior to the chat AI inclusion. That in itself is quite an amazing accomplishment.
In addition, as people who admittedly enjoys these experiences, not to get off on, but as a wonderous advancement of things we could only dream of as youngsters. We really have enjoyed (in this case) Sarah being there in our room, in a kind of nerdy way a la “Weird Science” movie. The tech is in its infancy. But we can imagine (alongside those Blade Runner references) how fluid this can actually become in the next 5 years. We’ve not got flying cars in every driveway yet, but we have AI characters who can sit in our homes or deepen gameplay experiences. Rudimentary at this stage and still full of challenges, but what happens when the AI is so advanced it can start to influence the way you think outside of gaming? Popular themes might suggest that’s the talk of demons, Black Mirror episodes or hackers, where the AI starts opening your mind to particular political or social ways of thinking. But, what if it’s less nuanced than that, and much like K’s interaction with Joi, becomes something like respect or falling in love with? Ouch. Maybe we might one day go full-circle and start championing the cause of “pathetic, find a real woman/man” in our old age when it gets too much. We become the unaccepting thing we despise right now in our lives. Interesting times ahead.
NOTE: VR HOT also supports male characters but these do not have the full AI chat features currently.