MASSIVE Undercover

  • StoryFutures
  • April 21st 2021

Welcome! Thanks for applying to take part in this project. At the bottom of this page, you can sign up to SFPanel, which is the website where you will take part in the research. But first, here is some more detailed project information to address questions you might have about taking part.

If you've been notified by MASSIVE that you've been selected for this project, you'll automatically join the MASSIVE Undercover study when you join SFPanel.

Project Information

MASSIVE is collaborating with StoryFutures to offer an exciting opportunity to be part of a research project on virtual reality. StoryFutures is a research and development centre based at Royal Holloway, University in London dedicated to driving innovation in story form and next-generation technologies. As part of this work, the StoryFutures audience insight team conducts research on users’ responses to VR content, both generally in terms of how home-based VR fits into their media and entertainment lives, and specifically in terms of evaluating responses to particular VR content – both content already available on the market, and content that we have helped to fund and develop. We are looking to expand our online panel of expert users to provide this feedback.

We are looking for 60 people who would like to be part of a cohort in a research project running from late April to September. StoryFutures will lend you, as participants, an Oculus Quest 2 headset for this period. You will be able to set up accounts and access free content, and are also able to purchase any content you wish, of which you will retain ownership at the end of the study (in case you go on to purchase your own headset).

Participants will then be asked to sign up to StoryFutures remote audience research panel (SFPanel), a website where you will create an account, provide some basic demographic details, and select the types of equipment you have available to you (the Quest 2 plus any mobile phones or computers you already own) in order to take part in the following:

Part 1

MASSIVE Undercover research tasks specific to this cohort:

a) Core research tasks about their VR usage, such as answering some questions or completing a questionnaire, or streaming a specified VR piece and telling us about your experience. These tasks will generally take 15-20 minutes and will be released once every 2 weeks for the first 3 months, and once every 3 weeks for the last 3 months. There will be approximately 9 core tasks – we ask you to complete any 6 or more of these.

b) Optional research tasks, such as Zoom focus groups, drop-in Zoom chats, SFPanel forums, media diaries, or interviews, which will focus on their response to the medium of VR (we may ask for a small number of volunteers for some of these tasks; others will be open to all). We ask you to complete any 4 or more of these.

c) As a ‘welcome’ gift, choose an app or experience worth up to £23 from the Oculus Store when you receive the headset, and StoryFutures will ‘gift’ it to you to get started with. StoryFutures will also provide you information on freely available content.

d) If you complete the minimum 6 core and 4 optional research tasks across the duration of the research project, including a mandatory exit questionnaire, you will receive a £50 Amazon voucher at the close of the study upon the return of your headset.

Part 2

Testing of StoryFutures immersive content created with our partners, including the National Gallery, the BBC, the BFI, and more – optional, but we do hope you will help us with these, because you will quickly become expert immersive audiences with valuable opinions!

a) Will include exciting new VR films and experiences currently in development, as well as augmented reality and other immersive digital content

b) Be the first to try out new content and help us to improve it by answering survey questions

c) Receive Amazon vouchers for your time and assistance for each study you complete

We will communicate available Part 1 MASSIVE Undercovertasks to you via text alert, and you will access all of these tasks via SFPanel. Some activities (such as focus groups) may take place digitally outside of the SFPanel website (via Zoom, for example), but you will find out about them via text alert and access them via SFPanel. You will find out about Part 2 StoryFutures testing via the contact information you provide when you sign up to SFPanel (email and/or text).

Timeline of involvement:


Sign up to SFPanel now


Receive your Oculus Quest 2 headset by courier to your home address (organised by MASSIVE) the week of 26th April


Take part in a virtual launch event on Zoom on 29th April, 7 pm


Select your 'welcome app by the 9th of May


Start participating right away in MASSIVE Undercover research tasks and StoryFutures immersive content testing


Complete a final exit questionnaire and take part in optional wrap-up focus groups or interviews from 1 October


Prepare your headsets for return - couriers will pick up your headsets the week of 11th October


Receive your £50 Amazon thank you voucher (based on completion of minimum 6 core and 4 optional research tasks and the receipt of your headset) by 25th October


Q: What is the focus of the study?

A: Some of the important questions we seek your help to answer include:

  • Is VR really the ‘empathy machine’ that some have claimed it is? In other words, to what extent can creators develop content that has predictable responses? What kind of agency does the user have? How does VR content generate an emotional response?
  • What techniques in VR fiction and non-fiction content affect user perception? Are these transparent to users, and how effective are they? How do they affect different users?
  • Is VR a medium in its own right? How important is interactivity in the narrative, and how meaningful are different kinds of interactivity to users?
  • How does user response vary depending on personal media histories, subjective points of view, political commitments, gender, ethnic background, socioeconomic background, ability/ disability, etc…?
  • What is the potential for social VR? How do users feel in these spaces, and how do they interact with others? What are the potentials and limitations of social VR for different users?
  • Why is there so much nonfiction VR? What do we learn from nonfiction VR that would be useful for fiction? What kinds of fiction VR would you like to see?

Q: Do I have to be technically savvy or have any special equipment to use the Quest?

A: Oculus Quest 2 headsets have been chosen because they require little to no advanced technical knowledge and are standalone – they don’t need to be connected to a computer. You will download an app to your mobile phone to help manage your headset – if you can download apps from the Apple Store or Google Play, you should be fine. The Oculus website has a very good Help session, and StoryFutures will assist with any technical challenges that the Oculus Help page doesn’t solve.

Q: Do I need home broadband?

A: Yes, you will need to be able to connect to the internet, ideally at home. It is helpful if you have a good broadband connection speed. If you have a basic broadband package (download speeds of 10-30 MB/second), there shouldn’t be a problem with content downloaded from the store, but you may experience buffering with streaming content. If you’ve got a broadband service that provides download speeds of 50 MB/sec or more, you should not notice any problems with either downloading or streaming. It is possible to use public WiFi connections (for example at a library, school or university) after the initial setup of the headset on a private WiFi connection. Note that all VR experiences tested through Part 2 of the study will be streamed rather than downloaded.

Q: I don’t like computer games – will there be anything of interest on this headset?

A: It’s true that Oculus has conceptualised their headsets primarily as game machines. However, there are many very interesting films and experiences available; in fact, the MASSIVE Undercover part of this project does not intend to focus on games at all (although you are more than welcome to try games on the headset if you wish – there are some good ones!).

Q: I’m worried about the physical effects of VR – will I suffer from migraines or nausea? Will I become addicted?

A: Some users do report that spending time in VR leaves them with headaches, dizziness or other physical effects. There have unfortunately been no conclusive studies to date as to whether VR use triggers other more serious conditions such as migraines or seizures. If you have any medical conditions you are concerned about, please consult your GP before using a VR headset. The most common side effects are eye fatigue, headaches and nausea, but for many users this is dependent on the type of content. Some users find they have to limit the time they spend in a headset, but others are comfortable in the headset for long periods of time. There are also no studies about any addictive effects, but in our research to date, we have not come across anyone who has had difficulty setting limits on VR activity.

Q: I’m hoping to be on vacation during the period of this study. Can I still take part?

A: You do not need to complete every activity; we ask you to complete a minimum of 6 core research tasks and 4 optional ones across the duration of the project, but there will be many more, and we welcome and value your participation in as many as you’d like to participate in. You can contact us via SFPanel to let us know if you are taking a break due to vacation or any other factors. We will keep an eye on your participation, and if you appear to be inactive, we will get in touch to see if you are interested in continuing. If not, we will arrange a courier to pick up your headset. You can take part in as many StoryFutures tests as you wish - we hope you will become an active member of our research community.

Q: Can I share this headset with my friends and family?

A: Yes! You can feel free to share with people in your household at any time, although you should not share the headset with anyone infected with COVID or other infectious illness. Only share with people outside your household if government COVID guidelines permit – treat the headset as a potential carrier of the virus. We will provide guidelines on safe cleaning and sharing. We would love to hear not only about your own experiences of VR, but also those of the people you share it with.

Q: Can children use the headset?

A: Oculus recommends a minimum age of 13 for headset use. Also please note that some content available in the store or through streaming apps (e.g. YouTube) may have adult content or age recommendations. StoryFutures recommends that children do not have unsupervised access to the headset and that any usage is monitored, for their own safety and to protect the equipment.

If you have any other questions, please let us know by contacting

Joining the SF Panel

Please note that only people with a confirmation email from MASSIVE will be signed up to this project, although anyone is welcome to join SFPanel to participate in StoryFutures testing.

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