Technology: Will virtual reality create a horde of loners?
Fake is the new real. And for many, it’s good news.
Remember the time we made make-believe friends? Not every parent was forthcoming in accepting this ‘pretend pal.’ It scared the bejesus out of them.
Several psychologists were consulted. Some blamed it on social pressures. “The child is probably stigmatized, so she’s created this new friend,” they said. Others pointed out that having an imaginary friend was a part of growing up and that there was nothing to worry about. Whatever the case may be, the creators of virtual reality have made ‘make-believe’ their business, and it is scaling great heights.
Virtual reality has created many new worlds, and you get to pick which one you want to rule.
Simply by wearing a high-end VR gear, you can fly to space and float among the stars or go deep sea fishing and annoy the sharks. More virtual worlds are in the offing.
Recently, a rock-climbing game from studio Crytek was released on Occulus Rift. The game became particularly engaging for those suffering from acrophobia (fear of heights). As a player, you know for a fact that you are not climbing a real cliff. But the experience is so real that it would make you sweat. Such adrenaline-fuelled activities may get you hooked on to your VR headset and you may end up being confined to your room. There is a high probability that you may want to live in the virtual world than in the real one. Because they are less expensive than the real-world experience.
Anna Chung, a business professional from Singapore, says: “ If I own a virtual reality kit, I feel I might end up spending less time with friends. The extent of my meeting them have decreased after I got addicted to Facebook and Whatsapp. These days, we just message and have fun in the ‘comments’ section. So I can say that, after VR takes over, at least in my case, there will be less number of face-to-face meetings. I would rather spend time exploring a newVR world or playing an immersive game rather than clicking selfies with my friends. We meet friends to have fun. If virtual reality could offer the same, I would certainly prioritize that.”
Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendos’s video game developer, best known for being the creator of the Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, and Pikmin, considers VR a solitary activity: “When you think about what virtual reality is, which is one person putting on some goggles and playing by themselves kind of over in a corner, or maybe they go into a separate room and they spend all their time alone playing in that virtual reality, that’s in direct contrast with what it is we’re trying to achieve with Wii U. And so I have a little bit of uneasiness with whether or not that’s the best way for people to play,” he told TIME.
VR is set to disrupt many sectors, including tourism. Jeff Rayner, founder & CEO of MyPad3D.com, says on Quora: “From a business perspective, you could save thousands of dollars by attending virtual conferences. People from all over the world will no longer need to fly, stay in hotels and eat at fancy restaurants. Instead, from their home offices they simply put on their virtual reality goggles that are linked to a real time feed and they are at that conference in Vegas, where they can explore and interact with people just as if they where there. The movie business and particularly the adult entertainment industry will of course blossom, as you will be able to ‘experience’ personal view points that immerse you into the location. The travel industry could be revolutionized too. Instead of flying over to Florida, you could enter a special environment room, put on a ‘feeling suit’, wear your goggles and voila, you are transported to anywhere instantly, and just as importantly potentially any time. i.e. You could have breakfast with the dinosaurs and then have lunch on Mars while having a conversation with a virtual AI Albert Einstein.” It remains to be seen if VR is a boon or a bane for travel companies.
Lydia Li, a student from Philippines, says: “Traveling the world is an expensive affair. Rather than save money and travel to one country, I would use less than half of the money to buy a VR kit and purchase a rich around-the-world visual experience. It may not be as good as real. But I am sure VR innovators will come up with something to make it more real.”
Companies like Samsung and HTC are optimistic about the future of the virtual reality market. HTC recently predicted that VR sales will surpass smartphone sales globally in a few years. Wang Tsung-ching, head of HTC Vive China, said in a report on China’s Sina website that the boom in VR sales will created a “big impact” in the high tech sector and the daily lives of its consumers.