Recently FlatironCity held the first Intoxicating VR. It was a night of gaming & VR professionals, curious nonindustry attendees, craft beer, food and of course some of the most cutting-edge virtual reality demos out today. From the HTC vive to a premarket (top secret) augmented reality demo housed in a VIP room, FlatironCity was packed wall to wall with demos. Guests were invited to interact with each one over the course of three hours. Having been one of the nonindustry attendees, I cannot speak to the technical side of what I saw that night. What I can speak on is my experience. Being immersed in another world is something humans have been seeking since storytelling first began. We yearn to experience other realities and to escape our own. We read books, watch movies, play video games – all in pursuit of being transported. Recently plugging in is the best way to unplug, and the introduction of virtual and augmented reality in everyday households has brought plugging in to a new level. I don’t have to strain my imagination trying to visualize fictional worlds or faraway lands and I’m no longer separated from my experience by a screen – when I put on those headsets, I am in the action. I can stand on the streets of Rome, battle alien lifeforms and study the components of a turbine engine. It’s the type of hands on experience educators, storytellers, travelers and adventure seekers speak about. Okay, so maybe it’s not actually the real thing, but it’s closer than I ever thought I’d be to many of those exploits.
Some of the limitations of the technologies were evident even to the untrained eye. Many of the more interactive demos required hefty setups, lots of wires & sensors and bulky headset. The inconvenience of the equipment makes it unlikely that it would be blend seamlessly into everyday life. There is a ways to go in that regard. The more compact systems were headsets that used your phone as the viewing mechanism. The phone clips onto the front of the headset and you can open various applications. The level of interactivity is limited though. It simply responds to the movement of your head; you can look around your environment, but not interact with it. When they day comes that the technology from systems like the HTC Vive can be captured in an operating system small enough to toss in a bag or keep on our desks, we will truly be living in the age of VR.
If you missed Intoxicating VR I encourage you to check out GGDA’s “How to Make VR Games” panel discussion next month at FlatironCity. You won’t be disappointed.