Occasionally, a VR experience comes up that I don't really know how to deal with. Not because it's difficult or particularly weird, but because it offers something I don't understand wanting. In this case, that experience is GrooVR, a "music driven virtual reality" app recently released for the Gear VR. GrooVR is a music visualizer, pairing songs of your choosing with abstract virtual environments that pulse in time to the beat. Actually, it's one of several such projects, including the better-known Harmonix Music VR, seen below. And I do not understand any of them.
Sure, I understand the pitch for being "fully immersed in music," and it sounds like a fine idea on paper. I've had fun with these things for a few minutes at a time. GrooVR, in particular, is a reasonably well-designed take on the concept. Instead of pulling music directly off a phone's internal storage, the app lets wearers log into Spotify and Soundcloud, which is a welcome step toward integrating the Gear VR with the rest of the computing landscape. It offers a handful of downloadable visual themes, including a cyberspace-y wireframe landscape and a glowing Buddha. It's got an intuitive interface, even if entering passwords in VR is still a huge pain.
But beyond the novelty value, GrooVR isn't something I can imagine using more than once or twice. Audio visualization experiments like SoundSelf are designed to encourage something like mindful meditation. Music-driven rhythm games offer concrete activity. Enjoying GrooVR, by contrast, requires enjoying uninterrupted sessions of pure listening — no walking, cooking, talking, reading, or any other activity allowed. It's not something that I'm used to, nor something that I feel a particular need to cultivate.
It's not clear to me how common my sentiment is, though. Being immersed in music seems more fun to talk about than to make a habit of, but it's also something I don't find very attractive in the first place. Do other people already have dedicated sessions of pure music listening, where they take breaks to just close their eyes and put on an album? Would they start if someone offered a visual aid like GrooVR? Do I need to be on drugs to appreciate this? Seriously, I have no clue.