The Exponential Rise of Virtual Reality Will Happen Slower Than You Think

I was somewhere today, Chatham House Rule and only one speaker. I won’t say where but, the speaker, a very well known Games Developer who has been producing games for a while and has a very popular game on the Oculus Rift, was asked whether the future of games was VR.

He replied, that he didn’t think so just yet for a few reasons:

  • VR has some challenges that need to be overcome so that users don’t end up feeling queasy when they are in VR worlds full time.
  • The hardware is too expensive and the computers needed to drive it are too expensive to be more than a niche at the moment.
  • The experience, in for example, a family setting, would be too antisocial for parents to want to invest in it. there is already a sense that young people spend too much time on laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

The first two points will be solved in a matter of years. The latter may take much longer to overcome.

They felt that VR at the moment is not going to be, ‘the future of the gaming industry’, it was less a platform and more of an experience. People typically try Oculus Rift or VR gaming, but don’t stick with it. They might show it off to their friends, but there is much less evidence that they will be spending 10 hours a day in a virtual environment. In their view, AR was going to be a much bigger thing in gaming than VR in the short term.

Virtual reality is experiencing exponential growth, the thing about exponential growth however is it take a long time before you notice it is happening.

VR is at the point that early cinema was. Lots of little shorts that were a bit dull but people still went to the cinemas to watch them.

(While looking for something to illustrate the point, I found this film with ‘sound’ from 1888). A recording of Handel’s oratorio, Israel into Egypt, recorded at the Crystal Palace. Incredible for the day but not sure I could watch for an hour.

Harold Lloyd’s genius was taking these shorts and stitching them together to build a narrative.

This, from the Matrix is about the best that 1990s cinema could offer.

Perhaps we have gone too far…

Virtual and Augmented Reality will develop much faster than the movie industry did. The rate of change of technology also seems to be increasing at an exponential rate.

I had a go on an Oculus Rift playing an exploration game. It was amazing. But overwhelmed my senses. I died spectacularly. Secretly, I was quite glad.

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