Our first Virtual Convening Platform Test Drive session featured Gather.town, a proximity audio virtual space that offers a unique online networking experience. It features a visual top-down two-dimensional map that participants can navigate within to connect with each other and visit different virtual meeting “destinations” as part of their online convening experience.
Here’s the gist: at this stage, it would be a seriously brave soul who would try to use Gather (or any of the proximity audio/video tools) to host a full end-to-end conference experience, but they’re GREAT for networking sessions!
Highlights from what we learned:
- You can see and hear those closest to you within the virtual space, and as you move around the map, you can see and hear others.
- Gather.town features a great aesthetic layout that offers fully customizable maps–if you’ve got the technical chops to tackle building them.
- When customizing and working with maps on this platform, having an accessible graphic designer is highly recommended.
- Gather.town allows for easy networking and natural conversation flows, as participants navigate to and from each area on the map.
- Private audio spaces are a unique feature in gather that make it functionally more useful for larger groups than other proximity tools.
- The new “spotlight” (voice of god) function shows promise, but is buggy when it comes to screen sharing/presentation mode.
- There’s a steep learning curve for many users in terms of navigating the space (arrow keys, no mouse interaction) especially given there’s no zoom function.
- Gather.town isn’t an end to end platform. It can’t handle event registration or payments.
- If you’re looking to host a virtual event with fewer than 50 participants, we’d honestly recommend SpatialChat –it’s way easier to set up and more intuitive for participants.
Increase collaboration and connection for your next online convening. Reserve your spot in our upcoming test drive.
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