Special: Dragons, Virtual Reality, And Other Delusions...
From John Carmack, the man who invented 3D gaming, to high level industry professionals, the Rift was suddenly being taken seriously. The impossible dream of our age that gave birth to whole genres of cult sci fi movies, cultural phenomenons like The Matrix, and personalized entertainment worlds offered to Star Fleet members via Star Trek's holodeck all seemed once again within reach after decades in research and development dustbins.
Things have changed since that first E3 appearance. The Oculus company, still a small force of true believers backed by Kickstarter money, was bought by Facebook magnate Mark Zuckerberg for a cool 2 billion dollars. Now there's a nice office for the employees, a lack of money trouble, Palmer Luckey holds founder status, and John Carmack quit his job at legendary id software to come on board with Oculus full time. The aim is the same, create worlds in a box that fool our brains into thinking we are there.
Until the Facebook purchase Oculus had been laser focused on creating a viable gaming device. They saw the realization of the great myth of virtual reality as an entertainment device. Zuckerberg had no intention of changing that but he clearly saw this as a different kind of animal. In his mind it would also be a revolutionary social communications device where people can meet and communicate eye to eye without traveling any distance, where a shared space can be used. Want to meet up on mars for a chat? He wants you to.
Like the dragon, virtual reality is seen many different ways by those from various vantage points. There are as many ways to view it as there are people in the world. If Virtual Reality becomes a real reality, we will receive it the way the creators want us to, at least at first. In the lore of the dragon we find that the beast is a hoarder, although he has no use for it, he steals vast caches of gold and rests upon the pile. There he defends his gold, his prize that can only be freed from his clutches by his destruction.
In the real world of technology and business the way to defeat is to compete. To get the treasure beneath the creature and access to its secrets someone must create a competing product. Once that has been done all of the possibilities that virtual reality has in gaming, social networking, and any other creative endeavor that can be imagined will be readily exploitable since the technology isn't owned by just one entity. Recently we have seen such a product making headlines, it is Sony's Project Morpheus. In a recent interview with The Guardian Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House spoke of the Rift, shedding some light on Sony's plan for their similar technology.
"With Oculus we saw this groundswell of game development that didn't necessarily have a monetizable or a business option, but [developers were] so passionate about this space that they were doing this essentially in their spare time. It struck that me that if there's a variety of game developers showing interest in this space then it's probably time to jump in and see if we can play a part and give them the tools they're looking for."
8/2/2014 David D. Nelson