I saw this article today about a “virtual reality web” – and was amazed at both how forward-thinking, and pessimistic it was.
The opening paragraph paints a pretty elaborate picture of something that’s, well, science fiction:
“What if you could browse the web in virtual reality? Just imagine the potential. Hyperlinks could take you not to Wikipedia pages about history, but right to the landscapes of ancient cultures, immersing you in plagues and art and war. Recipe sites could give you smell-o-vision cooking simulations. Message boards could become face-to-face chats. The web as we know it could become tangible, interactive, and more immersive than ever.”
I’ll admit, I think that’d be cool. And I’ll admit – I think that if we start deploying 3D content on the web, and that 3D content grows into a body of “virtual reality” content that can be used by the steady march of “immersive media” hardware that I think we can expect – something like that may come to pass.
The article goes on to describe how a few engaging demos of the technology already exist on the web. This being somehow a dissatisfying quantity, given that consumer VR goggles only started shipping within the last week. Although, they do rave about this handful of demos:
“However, if you dig for the handful of pages on the web that are actually enabled with this technology (read: none you know), it can be hugely gratifying. In another demo called Cubes, I was stuck inside a giant black hangar. Around me, colorful boxes floated around at random—captivating, even though I couldn’t do anything more than sit there and appreciate the technical wonder of this giant 3-D screensaver.”
Why A Virtual Reality Web May Never Happen
But then the article gets around to stirring up cognitive dissonance in me. To support the hypothesis of the title of the article, “Why A Virtual Reality Web May Never Happen“, gems like this are offered:
“Most Web Developers Don’t Have The Skills To Create VR. Assuming you can convince an HTML web developer that they should be building virtual reality websites—simply by sheer awe factor—there’s still a big problem: The expertise needed to build a conventional website is totally different from that needed to building an interactive environment.”
“A VR web requires web developers—formerly worried about which TypeKit font will work best for a client—to be game designers, 3-D modelers, sound designers, experience designers, and more. Unless there’s a market for these experiences, there won’t be investment. Unless there’s investment, there won’t be skill. And, in a full ouroboros, unless there are skills, there won’t ever be a market.”
Haha, there’s that “content paradox” I spoke of in the post entitled VRmageddon. But in this context, it’s playing out in the scope of an entire virtual reality web, rather than simply in the context of virtual reality ON the web.
The idea that a VR web will never happen is sort of dependent on the idea that no-one will bother to learn the skills required to build one if no-one is willing to invest in the skills required to build one.
Which is kind of like saying, “If we don’t build it, they won’t come”.
Given that VR goggles have been available to consumers for DAYS, not even weeks, and given that the only people who have even heard of the Oculus Rift are gamers and football fans, I think all the pessimism may be a little bit premature. Or so I’d like to think, anyway.
Good article. It moved me in all sorts of directions. I recommend reading it, here’s the link again. And it does sort of call to mind some of the text I wrote very early on in this blog. The text in the sidebar that describes this site, and replaced the infernal “About Us” page that so many websites feel are required:
3DSPACE IS A WEB MAGAZINE AND RESOURCE FOR:
- web designers & developers considering going 3D
- 3D artists & developers considering going to the Web
- anybody who is interested in the emergence of the 3D Web
It is true – if we don’t build it, they won’t come.