Virtually Yours

The Future Uses of a Virtual Reality Machine

While the main image you can see of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy is a good natured nod to the past, it’s inevitable that in the not-so-distant future, Virtual Reality will be a part of our home entertainment in some guise or another. Whether it’s in the form of goggles (with other sensor related accessories) or a Holodeck style simulation room, the fact is, once it’s available, everyone will want to experience it. Of course, VR won’t be all fun and games, as schools and work places would also have software available for training purposes, perhaps the VR motto will be the same as the BBC – Educate, inform and entertain. So what would be the most popular uses for the Virtual Reality machine of the future?

Films: Available in two packages: Broadcast and Interactive. Broadcast will allow you to watch the film in an enhanced 3-Dimensional scale, virtually putting you in the scene as a spectator. 3D cinema is already a part of entertainment today, with glasses and images that jump out at you. With the Broadcast package you’ll be like an extra in the movie, or to coin a theatre term: the fourth wall

The Interactive package is where film becomes revolutionary. You become one of the actors, with dialogue to prompt the virtual Hollywood stars and actions to progress the film. Become one part of a comedy duo with Jim Carrey, sing with the kids in High School Musical, trek through Middle Earth with Frodo and gang or even Saber-duel with Darth Vader – whatever type of film you like, there’ll be something for you to interact with. Subtitles can be used if you’re not familiar with the lines and after several interactive viewings you’ll be a professional. It’s a fine line between interactive movie and video game and perhaps even great training for potential actors.

It’s highly unlikely that such software would mean the death of the cinema. VR cinemas will no doubt exist, but the interactive aspect will be for the home only. Naturally not everyone could afford a VR machine, meaning their experience will be solely for the cinemas. Most likely the cinema and home version of the film will be released simultaneously, but if not, film buffs around the world will become familiar with the phrase “I can’t wait for the Interactive version to be released on the VR Home Entertainment System.”Video Games: Many would say that VR is the future of video games, Steven Spielberg for one believes console gaming will die out in favour of something more goggle based. If the VR gaming turns out like everyone imagines, then perhaps Spielberg is right. Who’d want to go back to a control pad and a television when the alternative is immersive 3D worlds in a VR booth?

Games are already headed in the general direction of VR, with the Wii and Microsoft’s upcoming Project Natal using motion sensors, not to mention Sony getting in on the wand-waving act too, this is simply the beginning. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony could develop their own VR machines, although this does mean the illusions of a sole gaming machine and the end of fanboyism remain simply a dream. Who would possibly want (or for that matter, afford) 3 different VR machines though? Chances are it’ll simply be a small device installed into the VR system to allow different company software to be compatible.

So let’s say popular franchises still exist in the future of Virtual Gaming. Trigger-happy horror fans would stamp on their own Grandmothers to get hold of the latest Resident Evil game, where you are put in the zombie-infested Raccoon City with a virtual shotgun and hordes of the undead to blast away. Nintendo would have a great time making Mario VR, putting you in the shoes of the plumber to stamp on the heads of foes and make jumps across deadly terrains to save Princess Peach. Who knows what VR game violence could do to the psyche, but we’ll let Jack Thompson worry about that.

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