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The Oculus Rift is (probably) here to stay


Some quick thoughts.

A little over a year ago I wrote a short, half-baked thing for Infinite Lives, Why “virtual reality” will never catch on. Now, fewer than 400 days later, my little treatise already seems outdated and quaint. Oh, sure, the crux of my argument remains true: there is virtually (hah! Virtually) no way to not look like a complete idiot while wearing a VR headset. But now I have to begrudgingly admit VR is a fad that will not pass.

New World Notes, a blog heretofore known for its Second Life coverage, has been following the Oculus Rift with great interest all this month. That’s because, in late April, Linden Lab confirmed plans to integrate the Oculus Rift headset with Second Life. (Before Second Life, Linden Lab itself aspired to create a virtual reality metaverse, headset and all. What we call “Second Life” was originally just a proprietary creative toolbox, intended for building virtual-reality environments.)

In a post titled Oculus Rift Makes Virtual Reality a Shared Group Experience, New World Notes includes this delightful video. In it, Katie—she’s the one in the VR headset, on the verge of toppling—needs to be held upright.

A recent research article, Rats! Why virtual reality doesn’t feel ‘real’, explains what is the matter with poor Katie. She is experiencing a kind of VR-made “vestibular dysfunction,” a sense of off-kilteredness that lives somewhere between the inner ear and Katie’s own neurons. Her neurons, by the way, are doing a bangarang job of misinterpreting the Rift’s onscreen visual data—none of which jibes with real-world data like “I’m trying to get my physical bearings in this kitchen”—and as a direct result, Burly Friend has to kind of scoop her up.

I know you’re never supposed to read the YouTube comments, much less respond to them, but I kind of just couldn’t help myself:


It is possible to play with an Oculus Rift and stand upright at the same time, and it’ll be fascinating to witness how gamers gradually rewire ourselves to accommodate this new technology.

Anyway, here’s a Vine I took at Giant Robot LA a few nights ago. A thoroughly disoriented young woman is attempting to play with the Oculus Rift using Kinect hand gestures; meanwhile, an early adopter of Google Glass surreptitiously films her by brushing his index finger along the Glass’s stem.

We are truly embarking on a brave new world, here. I was recently advised to read Snow Crash in preparation.

3 responses to “The Oculus Rift is (probably) here to stay” »

  1. Jake says:

    There was a time where I wanted to read every book and article I could find about video games and computer things, and every single one of them assured me that the future would be virtual reality. It was an idea that excited me greatly.

    I’d give the Oculus Rift a whirl, given the chance, but I’m not that geeked up about it, and I don’t know why. Google Glass, I could tell why I think that’s dumb, but the Oculus Rift seems fairly rad to me, and that’s all. Fairly rad. Not dumb, not the coolest, just pretty neat.

    Maybe it’s the timing, with this coming out so soon after the 3D movie resurgence. 3D movies have always spoken to me conceptually, but there have been lots of let-downs in that space over the past few years. Although Hugo was incredible. And I am all about the 3DS. Hm.

    Okay, so this is a theory I’m formulating as I’m writing it, but maybe the technology is awesome and I fear that won’t be enough? I look at something like the Wii, and, man, I friggin’ love the Wii, and I think it inspired some brilliant games that never would’ve been possible before, but the greater legacy of the system is not the way it inspired innovation and creativity, but the way developers looked at it, collectively shrugged their shoulders, and said, “Meh, waggle waggle, this doesn’t work.” And they gave up without really trying. They dismissed motion controls as a shallow gimmick, completely disregarding the strong cases for the Wii Remote presented by such spectacular works as Wii Sports, No More Heroes, Boom Blox, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Elebits… There was a lot of great stuff, but that wasn’t the conversation.

    There’s all this talk about whether or not 3D can work in games – or even if 3D can not ruin games – but in my mind, it already works. Most of the time, I’d rather play 3DS games in 3D. That, for me, is the end of the discussion. I’ve been given an option, and I choose 3D.

    Most 3D movies, are sloppy, post-production conversions that are dim and blurry, and the effect distracts, but I saw Hugo in 3D, and I thought it not only looked like the bee’s knees, it enhanced the storytelling. Just because 3D is bad the majority of the time doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad. It just takes getting used to, for both the audience and the creators.

    I think it will be a long, long time before VR headsets become the norm, if they ever do, and I think it will be much longer before they gain acceptance. And if I’m right about that, it means we’re in for quite a wait before the Oculus Rift will have enough to offer to justify its cost. Regardless of any of that, though, I think I want it to succeed. I want to play it with a Novint Falcon. I was promised a VR future, and I want it. I’m just not excited for what’s on offer at the present.

    (Also, this is the best: http://youtu.be/Vi6Rdpw1zTE)

  2. solojakd says:

    I have no arguement on the views of vr in fact i mostly agree with you on this good idea bad idea invention/entertainment, but off topic id like to speak or email probably email on a matter i think you could help or enlighten myself with

    • Jake says:

      solojakd, is that directed at the proprietor of this Web site or at the idiot who left the loquacious, rambling dissertation below it?

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