For better or worse, 2016 is shaping up to be the next big year for virtual reality. Oculus released the Rift in March; in April, HTC and Valve released Vive; Google and Playstation are expected to enter the game this year too.
The progenitors of virtual reality wanted spectators to become immersed in the environment they were spectating. It’s the concept behind 3D movies, and in time, it logically progressed to video games.
Valve already unveiled a spectator mode in Dota 2 for Vive users (probably hoping that The International 2016 might boost Vive sales, or at least be an opportunity to mercilessly promote the headset).
Of course, there are always enemies, with apparently nothing to do, who decry cool things like VR. This article is about why those people are wrong.
The most vociferous enemies of technocrats, the naive class of people who eschew any high-tech advancement with the potential to significantly alter the current state of affairs, are wrong to assume that VR has any sort of true dystopian bent. Sure, things are changing, but so what? Things are always changing. That’s why human beings have enough leisure time to do things like play video games and why we can spend time making video games instead of finding food. VR is a natural next evolutionary step in how we play video games.
There are some who fear a VR similar to that of The Matrix, the movie where Keanu Reeves was wholly unaware he was living in an alternate reality. In other words, total immersion could make us forget about our real lives or at least make our real lives dull and undesirable in comparison.
Ian Bogost cleverly argues that cell phones connected to an internet saturated with repetitive, easily accessible content (you’re welcome) already fulfills that potentially destructive role–the role of making us forget our humanity.
In an article for The Atlantic, Bogost states:
“[Virtual reality is] no overwhelming sensory immersion experience that fully and completely transports you to another world. It’s something far more obvious, and far more mundane, and perhaps even far more terrifying: VR is just television for the computer junkie.
Ouch. It sucks to look in the mirror sometimes. But look, most of us watch too much television; that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our humanity though.
No, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
Even if VR does take off this year, it will still be commercially inaccessible for a lot of people. And your friends will want to take turns using it if you have one. But maybe that’s the genius part of VR in terms of marketing: if people can’t simultaneously view it, everyone has to buy their own.
So there. There are people hoping to get rich promoting VR, but that’s it. They aren’t trying to tear the social fabric of society. Things will evolve and we’ll adapt. There’s nothing especially pernicious about the advent of VR culture. After all, once upon a time, there were old geezers shaking their fists at youngsters who owned television sets.