In the summer of 2012 we were approached by a start-up business with a vision for a new way of delivering business coaching and consultancy. Using a technique called 'sociodrama', their idea involved the use of gaming technology to create metaphorical representations of real-world scenarios in a virtual landscape – a radically different approach to any other coaching product in the marketplace. They were looking for a company to help them build the software platform that would make this vision a reality and our long-standing track record in developing 3D virtual environments and managing virtual events naturally brought them to our door.
ProReal is now commercially available. It enables a consultant, coach or therapist to work with clients (remotely if desired) to help them create a visual representation of their world and inter-personal relationships and then share it with others. Together, individuals and their colleagues or advisors can use the scenario to clarify understanding, share ideas, identify problems and consider options for change and development.
Interaction between the consultant and the client takes place within a virtual environment. Characters within the environment (representing the client and any people they choose to place within the world) are represented by featureless avatars. Relationships between characters are represented by spatial distance whilst character attitudes are represented by a choice of motion-captured gestures. Captions enable the client to add voices to the characters and a toolset of props allow the client to add objects to the world which metaphorically represent real life situations.
We also developed an online User Management System which allows coaches to set up and manage sessions with their clients.