The ability to place yourself inside virtual worlds has been in the realm of science of fiction for a long time. But, 2014 has the potential change that and usher in a new era of human computer interaction. Thanks to the Oculus Rift, virtual reality will be a subject of wide interest for mainstream society. Here are 5 reasons why VR will see a successful 2014. (This list is in no specific order)
Reason 1: Immersion
Human beings like to tell a good a story. All of us do it, and we do it through different mediums. Through my podcast and blog i’d like to think that I am telling a story of virtual reality. Sure, anyone can tell stories, but what makes a good story?
No matter what the content or how it is consumed, a good story is one that you loose yourself inside of.
Exhibit A: Disneyland. Theme parks we’re built in a time when computer graphics didn’t exist, so in order to bring you somewhere only I have imagined I have to build the place physically myself. Disney wanted to build worlds from which he would be able to tell you his stories. He wanted you immersed, he wanted you to forget that you were in Anaheim California. Immersion sells millions of dollars in themepark tickets sales.
Exhibit B : Wii; I would argue that the Wii’s success is greatly attributed to the immersion the Wii was able to provide. Immersion doesn’t just sell theme park tickets, it also sells video game consoles. When the Wii came out, it’s direct competitors we’re targeting a specific audience of gamer. The hardcore. And hard core gamer wanted nothing to do with gimicky wands and peripherals. Except, for the casual gamer the Wii mote and nunchuck attachment was a new bridge for them cross into the realm of gaming. The Wii made it so that grandma could play Bowling or mom could play Tennis in a way that was simple and intuitive. Playing tennis, you simply swing your arms around as if you were really holding a tennis racket. The Wii came out the clear winner in the last console generation having sold more than 100 million units world wide.
The Wii’s success goes to show that casual gamers are just as hungry for more immersive experiences as the core gamer.
I could write a whole book on the importance of immersion so this discussion will be continued.
2 The Console and PC market are stagnant in innovation.
From a consumer’s perspective, I look all around me and see a lot of monotony in the gaming industry. The content is diverse as ever but the ways with which we consume media will soon seem antiquated.
We are currently stuck in the interface paradigm. Our only access to the computer world is through flat surfaces we stare at while we type away or press buttons on a controller. Fundamentally what this means is: The PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 are all exactly the same thing and perform in the same manner to grant you access to the computer world. Some people might like this current status quo, but living in the year 2014 at the dawn of the 21st century, makes you wonder: Where are my moon colonies? Where are all the jetpacks? Why don’t I have a robot wiping my butt by now?
Truth is, we are all living in the future and as consumers we need to set our expectations a lot higher for what can be possible technologically. Virtual reality seems to meet my expectations of what gaming will look like in the first quarter of the 21st century.
The rise of tablets and smartphones will help accelerate the growth of virtual reality. The components that make virtual reality possible such as accelerometers and high res screens have been coming down in price because of the Smart phone race. This is what allows Oculus to aim to charge 300 dollars for their device.
Soon, mobile devices will have caught up in processing power to desktops and laptops with Envidia showing off its new 192 core processor at CES 2014. This new mobile future feels more tangible than ever.
3. 300 dollars for a Virtual reality headset is a compelling price.
People have the disposable income for extraordinary experiences. Back in 2012 I remember seeing impressions of the Oculus Rift from E3. The thing that stood out for me the most was the following thought: “Wow, I’m seeing reporters, gamers, developers of all kinds walking away amazed. People who think they have seen everything the gaming industry has to offer are walking away amazed.”
I say this because, if gamers and game industry folk whom spent their lives inside the industry are blown away by the rift, Imagine what it will do to John Doe at Best Buy?
4 The porn will be amazing
5 There are numerous services and products that VR will improve
Education could be changed forever. Let’s visit the places we want to learn about. Let’s simulate the actions we want to get better at. The school field trip budget is now only tied down to the limits of one’s own imagination.
Creating things inside VR and sharing those creations with the world will be immensely compelling one day.
Tele-presence will give us the freedom to visit the places we might never see in real life.
It’s just a matter of time, till someone is able to nail down the casual VR experience properly.
I could probably name a lot more reasons why VR will be successful in 2014. The future likes bright, but life wouldn’t be life if it wasn’t for obstacles. Already, it’s difficult to predict how the greater society will react. We don’t know what impact patent law will have on the medium.
Still, the future looks promising and we now have the choice to decide whether we want to be participants of history or witnesses.