Jacaranda FM launches Mzansi Quest, a social VR game and giveaway, on 21 June

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We’re supposed to be keeping away from others (seriously folks, it’s a good idea). Jacaranda FM, together with Tracker, are launching Mzansi Quest, an online experience that’s supposed to be about getting together while staying apart. Part social network, part VR experience, part R50,000 giveaway, Mzansi Quest is a cute little world where participants can get together, chat, and explorer several South African provinces.

We went on an Mzansi Quest

The experience, which will be available on tablets, smartphones and web browsers — plus any VR hardware you might have available, launches officially on 21 June this year but we had a chance to check it out a little early, to see what it is all about.

Basically, you can head to major cities in five SA provinces, explore the place and get some information about the location you’re roaming and — if you’re keen on the giveaway side of things — collect five different items scattered around the area. Because R50,000 is nothing to sneeze at. And if that’s all you want, the whole experience will take you just a few minutes to navigate. The areas aren’t hugely complex or detailed.

But there’s another side to it — social interaction. Participants exploring Mzansi Quest, which its creators describe as social VR, can wander up to other cutesy-themed animal avatars (which can be customised) and start up a chat. It feels, if you can remember this far back, like the days of Mxit where you could drop into a chat room and just start talking with strangers.

Conversation is via audio and your avatar’s head will bobble while you’re talking. It’s easy to dismiss and disappear from the view anyone being a bit of a pillock (silence is just a click away), and users can just… walk around talking to others. It’s got potential as a socialising tool, though we haven’t seen it fully loaded. The experience’s spatial audio feature is cool, fading sound in and out based on in-app distance, but if an area is jam-packed, you’ll likely have to find a quiet corner to make yourself heard.

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