Over the last couple of days, the very first “Oculus Rift” headsets have been arriving on the heads of ordinary consumers. And those who write about such things are going wild. This, they say, is the dawn of virtual reality. As far as a lot of people are concerned, this is the beginning of a whole new medium. And given what I’ve seen about the sweeping psychological implications of “immersive media”, it could be true.
For example, Matthias Mccoy-Thompson of The Medium makes the bold statement:
“Today marks the biggest revolution in gaming since Pong took games from the realm of boards into the digital.“
It’s a good article, and it’s worth the read, even if it doesn’t go all the way to justifying such a broad claim. Or these:
“Humanity finally has a dream machine and we’re going to use it to its full capacity.”
“If the world was a small place before, today marks the day it gets a whole lot smaller.”
But there is this one paragraph in there that really turned my crank:
“Jeremy Bailenson at the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab has studied a number of interesting ways that virtual reality can be used to increase attention and retention in learning environments. Virtual reality can be used to have teachers mimic student body language, maintain eye contact, or even have every student sit at the front of the class.”
This hearkens seriously towards something I’m looking at with my artificial character experiments. Increase attention, body language, maintain eye contact, every student at the front of the class – yes, indeed, all of those will go a long way towards creating learning environments that transcend what would be possible either with flat media, or even in the real world.
At any rate, the very first headsets are arriving on the heads of ordinary consumers, as of, well, a couple of days ago. People are speaking hyperbolically about this being the dawn of a new way of doing, well, everything.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re wrong. Or, maybe, they’re right, but way too early. Which can be just as bad as being wrong.
Time will tell.
But by time, I mean at least months, probably years. Certainly not days.
Welcome to the dawn of virtual reality.