Virtual Reality Games
Virtual Reality by AARP Foundation (01:40)
Play Staying Sharp Games in Alcove, a Virtual Reality Platform by AARP Foundation.
Come on in. Make yourselves at home. Alcove’s virtual house lets you connect with the ones you love and create new memories, no matter where they are, or how far away. Whether you want to play, relax, or explore, the opportunities here are endless. Take on challenges at the games table, learn how to meditate on the porch, travel to exotic corners of the universe, engage in music, or just reminisce on the living room couch.
Alcove’s interactive games table is tons of fun. Enjoy dozens of fun games from Staying Sharp, an AARP member benefit. Each one-minute game challenges a specific skill with three levels of difficulty. Play games on memory, speed, focus, word skills, and more, and track your progress over time. Or grab a buddy to play board games like chess and checkers — you’ll find those at Alcove’s game table, too!
Take a glimpse at the descriptions below for all the experiences available in Alcove.
Connect with loved ones
Hang out with friends and family and catch up on the couch in your own virtual home.
Travel the world
Visit the travel room to take a cross-country road trip, ride in a hot air balloon, and explore the depths of the ocean.
Grab a friend to play checkers or check out fun games from Staying Sharp.
Customize your virtual home
Decorate walls with your own photos, upload and watch your own videos, or change the scenery.
Relax and unwind
Engage in music or dress up your pet bunny with hats, play fetch, or chase it around the house.
Health and wellness
Practice guided meditation, follow workout yoga and strength videos or practice breathing exercises.
How to get started with Alcove
The primary button in Alcove is the trigger (shown highlighted in the image below). You will use this button for most interactions.
Throughout the house there are circles on the ground. These are teleportation stations, the main way to move around the house. When you hover over them they will glow and when you click on them (using the trigger) you will teleport to that spot.
You can interact with anything that glows when you hover over it. For example, you can view the pictures on the wall by clicking on their frames.
Another way to move is by using the Alcove menu. This can be accessed by clicking the ≡ button on the left controller (shown highlighted in the image below).
This menu shows the different areas of the house including the media area, travel room, and the health area. Clicking on an icon will transport you to that section of the house.
To exit out of any menu or experience, click the B button on your right controller.
The last important control is the joystick. There is one on each controller and they are used for a couple of important tasks.
The first is turning: Instead of physically turning your head to look around you can push the joysticks to the left or right to turn your view.
The second use is scrolling through menus. Push a joystick up or down to scroll through menu items.
Now that you are familiar with the controls, there’s a lot of content to explore!
Clicking on the pile of rocks will open a guided meditation/breathing exercise.
The ‘Your Health Matters’ book contains Health & Wellness videos:
The spa tray has a selection of mediation videos.
The barbell in the corner has workout videos.
On the TV there is a wide selection of content. Select a category and then choose the video you want to watch from the list.
There is also a violin in the corner where you can listen to a string quartet play classical music.
The interact area is a table near the photo wall. This is the part of the house where you can do everything from playing a round of checkers to interacting with a little virtual bunny. There are lots of games to choose from and more will be added over time.
Currently, the games menu includes:
- Hide and Seek
- Babble Rabbit
- Memory Wall
- Matching Pairs
- Quick Blocks
- Rain Ripples
- Speed Sort
Moving out onto the side porch (the part of the porch that is parallel to the living room) you will find 3 orbs floating above the glass.
These orbs allow you to change the environment that surrounds your house. The one pictured above is the Ocean. There are two others that you can also select: Mountain and Meadow. Simply click whichever environment you want and your surroundings will change instantly!
Probably the most interesting room in the house is the travel room. This room boasts a huge selection of travel videos from all over the world along with bus tours through major cities, balloon tours over natural landmarks, majestic videos of fish and dolphins taken from scuba divers and much more.
The majority of the travel videos can be accessed using the globe on the table.
To view content from the globe you first click it so that it expands. Now you can rotate it by focusing your pointer on the globe, holding down the trigger, then moving your controller slightly to the left or right. When you want it to stop spinning, let go of the trigger.
Now click the continent of your choosing and this will open up a menu of all of the cities.
Choose a city and then select one of the videos.
Diving in Apo Island, Philippines:
In the far corner of the room there is a little toy car. The car has several road trip videos that take place across the continental United States.
To the right of the car is a hot air balloon. In the balloon, you will find tours that give you a bird’s eye view of locations ranging from Uganda to the Swiss Alps.
To the left of the car is a model bus. Here you’ll find bus tours of the world’s largest cities: Paris, London and Tokyo to name a few.
In the other corner of the room there is a diver mask, a globe on a stand, and several large pictures on the wall.
The diver mask is a collection of all of the underwater content. You can swim alongside a pod of dolphins, dive into a reef and much more.
The globe is a link to another VR app called Wander. Wander costs $10 and is basically Google Maps in VR. You can go anywhere in the world that Google offers street view and you can do it with your friends.
Finally, the pictures on the wall are different videos that weren’t included in the globe. Things like a tour of the Library of Congress or a Lunar New Year parade.
And that’s it. Now put on your headset and go explore Alcove!
Frequently Asked Questions
Step 1: Adding Friends
To use Oculus social features, you must have a Facebook account linked to your Oculus account. Once you have that, you can start adding friends. To add friends, click the social tab on the oculus menu, select Friends, then click the Add Friends button in the top right.
Now type the person’s Oculus username into the search field and click the Add Friend button when their profile comes up.
The person receiving the friend request has to accept it before you can use Alcove together. To do that, they must go to the Social tab, Friends, and then select Requests on the side menu and the request should show up. Then they have to accept the request.
Alternatively, you can add people from the mobile app. In the social tab you can add friends by clicking the blue button in the bottom right. You can also accept or deny friend requests from this tab.
Then just search for the person’s Oculus username and add them by clicking the Add Friend button.
Step 2: Creating an Avatar
To use Alcove with friends, you must create an avatar. To do this click the social tab on the Oculus menu, select Profile, then click the Edit Avatar button below your username.
Customize your Avatar however you want and when you finish, click Save Avatar & Exit.
Step 3: Inviting Friends inside Alcove
Click the menu button (looks like this: ≡) on your left controller. This will open the Alcove menu. Select the Invite Friends box.
Find the friend you want to invite and click Invite to Alcove.
The recipient of the invite will get a popup telling them they’ve been invited. To accept the invite click Join.
This tutorial will explain how to upload pictures from your computer and view them in your Alcove living room.
Step 1: Creating a Rendever Account
Go to alcove.rendever.com and fill out the Sign-Up form. When filling out the form, please ensure that you type in the correct Oculus Username – as it is easy to miss. You can find your username in the Oculus mobile app following the steps below:
If you accidentally mistype your Oculus Username, you can correct it in your account settings. Click Account, Select Your Connected.
Devices, retype your username, then hit update.
Step 2: Uploading images to the Alcove Rendever Portal
Once you’ve created an account and have signed in, scroll to the bottom of the page where it says, “Start New Album”. Give your new album a name and click Create.
Click the + button to upload the images from your computer.
Open the folder where the photos are stored.
Select a picture by clicking on it or select multiple pictures by clicking on several files while holding down the Shift key. Then click Open to upload the selected picture(s).
The photos should appear in the album.
Step 3: Customizing pictures in Alcove
Put on your headset and open Alcove. If a popup appears asking you whether you’ve linked your Oculus account to Rendever click Yes. Now move over to the wall of picture frames and select one.
When the image opens, click the add image button in the bottom right.
Then, click on the Album that you created in the Rendever portal.
Finally, click the picture you want to add to the frame.
The VR video streaming in Alcove is optimized for WiFi speed of 50-100 Mbps and above, so if your connection is slower than that, videos may be slower. We could further compress the videos, but that would visibly impact their quality for all users. Alternatively, we could also have two versions for each video — optimal quality, and compressed, something we did consider, but that may introduce other issues. We will certainly keep looking for ways to best optimize, so everyone can fully enjoy their experience in Alcove!
Ideally, we’d strongly recommend looking into higher speed internet for your home, if that is at all an option in your area. We do realize that might not be possible, so we also added the option to download locally most of the videos. You can download as many as you want to watch, and then delete them to make room for more.