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Thoughts on testing VR

Virtual Reality is a new technology that is slowly changing the way we use, interact with and perceive digital. Virtual spaces and experiences are bringing the dreams of Star Trek’s holodeck closer to reality.

All VR systems share the same characteristic of allowing the user to see life-size 3D computer-generated images. As such, testing a VR project consists of using exploratory and functional techniques adapted to this type of environment.

Due to the fact this technology is still a novelty, most VR products are for now very much entrenched in the entertainment industry, taking the form of games, experiences and simulations for example. Because of this, the end-user is supposed to ‘connect’ and interact with the products, and the user experience becomes critical in determining their success. Any good testing plan should acknowledge this, and any tester should approach the assignment with an ‘end user’ mentality.

‘End user’ mentality

‘End user’ mentality is testing the software in a way that a ‘user’ is going to use it. Clear indications, responses, normal ‘logical’ behaviour and a clear story or critical path are elements that the tester should look out for and follow. Having documents or resources based on the developer’s designs, scenarios and functional creations will help the tester to better understand what the developer built for the user and how they intend the user to react, and as such should always be integrated into any testing plan or matrix.

Due to the high interconnectivity between VR products and the hardware they need to run on, it’s always important for the tester to be aware of this connection and its impact on the ‘enjoyment’ of the product.

There are several elements that can create and impact the user experience. Important factors include: clarity of the VR environment and its textures, spatiality and movement within the VR environment, duration of a testing session, sound immersion and reactivity, the interaction and response timings between controllers and sensors, and thermal throttling (especially for mobile VR solutions). These should always be brought to the developer’s attention when issues or dysfunctionalities arise.

spriteCloud and VR testing

For the past few months, spriteCloud has been involved in advising on and also testing some amazing VR projects. Our central focus is acknowledging the particularities of the VR platform, and having a strong ‘end user’ mentality and experience, as we continuously work with our clients to improve and successfully deliver quality and meaningful products and experiences. You can find out more here.


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