Virtual reality has been the next giant step in gaming for decades, and until now, it has only seemed like an unattainable piece of fiction that was marred by failure and sloppy executions. Does anyone remember Nintendo of America's blatant lie known as the Virtual Boy? This writer recalls one Christmas, standing amongst freshly torn wrapping paper, standing in awe before the shiny pristine box with the giant silver font. Faint sounds of Christmas carols could be heard in the background, and blinking holiday lights flashed in the child's peripherals. The fresh box of wonder seemed to whisper inside my head. "This is the future..."
Could a child ever be so naive? After slipping on the clunky headset, and turning on the creator of artificial worlds, the imagination began reeling. Will I travel to distant lands? Maybe this bad boy will finally allow me to time travel like Marty McFly, while sitting safely indoors. The possibilities seemed endless, as the packaged game slid out of the box. It was Batman. While this was not the first franchise the minds wanders to when one thinks of doppelganger worlds, but it would have to do. The title screen flashed before my eyes, and game time was here. Confusion was the only emotion that could be recalled as a pixelated infrared Batman punched and kicked wildly in the direction of infrared thugs. This was it. Most children grew a little wiser that day.
But forget about that noise. The REAL future is here, with Oculus Rift. It even has a super futuristic name. It even played believably and realistically. However, before the company could produce anything untainted by some major corporation, Facebook bought the future for a whopping $2 Billion in cash and stock. While, this seemed like an exciting time for gaming, with dreams rapidly forming of finally meeting Tron himself, these hopes were obliterated by this announcement. It looks like instead of racing around a digital world, the virtual world will mirror Demolition Man instead. And let’s not forget the dismal form of intercourse in that world. It seems certain that social media is going virtual.
However, if the Facebook commander and chief Mark Zuckerberg, can be trusted, he promises Oculus Rift will still tackle games first. “After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” he says. This comes as a relief to this child of the eighties. While being cornered by Grandma in your very own headset while she mistakes you for Bob Denver, and simultaneously accusing you of stealing her spectacles may seem like fun, this will all become sad and overbearing.
Let us hope that the Oculus Rift will explore distant lands, while accomplishing the objective of fully immersing players in whatever reality we wish. This invention is ripe with endless possibilities, and once the kinks get worked out and the price point of $350 drops significantly, maybe the average Joe will be able to explore them. Whether we get to rocketing through space with Commander Shepard, ride Epona with Link through a High Definition Hyrule, or explore the wastelands of Fallout, questions will be answered this summer of 2014. What is certain, is that this version will kick the crap out of that double crossing Virtual Boy. We're all looking at you too, Power Glove!