Virtual Reality. Your mom’s talking about it, your dad, brother, sister, everyone. This year, it seems that you just can’t escape it. It’s everywhere that technology is discussed. Magazines, TV, news, books, and the point is: it’s everywhere. However, if you’re excited about virtual reality and the way it is now, you really shouldn’t be, because there’s a lot more still to come.
G’ Day mates! I’m here to give some futurist insight into the wondrous world of virtual reality. As I made very clear in the first paragraph, it is obviously everywhere, and for good reason, of course. It’s one of the first times in video-gaming history where it became possible to actually feel as though you had a presence in a virtual world, but the fact of the matter is, is that it’s been around for quite a while.
If you’re going to be getting very technical with the definition of what virtual reality actually is, you could say that it’s been around since the first RPG’s, or role-playing games, hit the store shelves, technically. I mean, what is virtual reality? By this definition, virtual reality is any new reality that you can experience virtually, which pretty much means any videogame, or virtual instance, that has some sort of connection to reality. One of the better, more modern examples of this phenomenon can be seen in Grand Theft Auto 5, which, aside from the obvious criminal game features, is a pretty well preserved instance of 2008, post-recession Los Angeles. Like a photograph, whose events are all locked in time, you could say that the game, like a picture, exists in a state of limbo, and goes back and forth between being something that’s real, and something that isn’t. All of the characters, and the cars, and the civic structures, continue to operate as though nothing is changed, despite the entirety of the world by advancing and eight years since the game is set to take place. This type of phenomenon works in other games to. For example, Rome: Total War, a Roman Empire strategy game, exists completely in an ancient European world, with political systems, economy, and so forth, and much like GTA V, it doesn’t change much either.
That being said, who gives two shits, am I right? We’ve had these kinds of games for years and years, we want something new. While most see this VR craze as the window into virtual horror, sex, and other gimmicky sounding titles. When I think of VR, I’m thinking of the far, far future version of this concept. What I’m talking about, is AR, or augmented reality. In VR, sure, you feel like you’re in the game, but in augmented reality experience, the feeling of just being “in the game”, goes much, much deeper. Going back to our original example of what can be considered VR: what if you could actually be a citizen of Los Santos, GTA’s virtual world? I’m not just saying that you create a character, and you “pretend” to be him. No, in AR, you actually will, be him. Obviously our technology is to inferior in its current state to ever see this concept to its fullest, but with the computer technology advances we could be expecting to see in the next couple of decades (as discussed in my first Society Smash article), it’s not very far out of the realm of possibility.
If you’re familiar with the concept of lucid dreaming, you no doubt heard of ideas similar to this before. Now in a lucid dream, you’re essentially having a normal dream, but then suddenly, for some reason, you wake up, and you realize that it’s a dream... but you don’t stop dreaming. For most people who are new to this experience (including myself, as I tried to but never had one), this drug like high almost immediately ends just after it begins. However, for individuals who’ve been training for years to trigger and live out scenarios in these dreams, can sometimes make them last for upwards of an hour, and obtain complete control over the reality. AR will no doubt be a very similar experience. To help relay this concept, let’s say the first AR game just came out, and it’s essentially a small wire, or a computer chip that you hook into your brain, and then suddenly, you’re transported to an experience that’s outside of what is currently known. You’ve entered a virtual reality; however, unlike how virtual reality is known today, you have complete control. When I say that, I mean that the reality created no longer obeys the currently known laws, and you essentially, will become a god.
Anyways back to our game concept. So you’re transported to the virtual reality, right? Let’s just say for simplicity sake, that it’s a medium-sized white cube, or box, let’s say 20 x 20 x 20 feet. In this reality (no doubt at first) you won’t even realize you’re in a simulation. Your first 10 uses of this brand-new device might just be going in the world for five minutes each use, then being immediately deported from it. You do this so over time, your brain adapts to the idea that this is not real, and by the all-powerful 11th use, you realize that this isn’t real. It is now possible for you to take full control over this world. In this white box you can do whatever you want. Maybe you envision yourself sitting on a couch and watching TV for who knows how long, but no doubt more ambitious and individuals will take this as a step to becoming a godlike figure. Maybe a user wants to let out their greatest sexual fantasies by creating the perfect man or woman of their choice and spending some “time” with the new individual. Maybe you use this world to release tension and anger, by visualizing your greatest enemy’s, and arguing with them. Maybe it gets violent, and you attack, or even kill them. After all, they aren’t actually getting hurt, and as no consequence in this world, so it the perfect place to do so.
Now, in both scenarios, the sexual fantasy, and the empowerment fantasy, it’ll feel as though you’re actually doing all those things. To be clear, it won’t be just like any another videogame, you’ll get to have sex, or you get to kill people, it’ll be like you’re actually doing it. Once again, to be clear, when I say actually, you’ll feel every punch that you throw at your boss or whoever you choose to beat up. In the sexual fantasy, your mind may trick you out of the scenario; although it’ll feel that, the most part, as though you were actually taking part in the foreplay, and advances that are being made. You’ll be able to feel normal human emotions, and desires, such as hunger and thirst, as well as, the need to breathe and blink.
So far in this world, you’re able to create a scenario, and live it out as though you were actually there, but the third and final key part to this scenario is the control aspect. This is the “god mode” we discussed earlier. Sure, in both scenarios, if you wanted it to play out just as it would in the real world, that would be very possible. However, don’t doubt this aspect of control that comes in the world. In the sexual fantasy scenario, the person of your dreams will just be a mindless puppet, which is capable of movement, or emotion, but in reality you are actually controlling those aspects, as well. During the scenario, you will essentially be creating a living breathing member of society, who, without the gift of sentience, doesn’t know better. Your perfect person could be loving and caring, or perhaps dominant, and violent, or any other taboo you’d like to live out. The same goes for the empowerment fantasy. You can create whoever you want, and do whatever you want to them. You can do this in puppet mode, as mentioned before; you can animate them, and make them act like the actual person would in real life. Maybe you want to stroke your own ego, and make them grovel at your feet. In a world like this, someone you like, or admire, and maybe would never have the courage or ability to speak to, such as an idol, you now could.
So to summarize (yes, I know this one’s a bit shorter, but I’m going to delve more into the applications for AR next time) in VR, by its basic definition you’re able to live out a virtual life, in a virtual world, no consequence. In our “white box” name that we made, the part where you could create your own scenario directly from your mind, and could control everything that happened in the world, was the VR part. In an augmented reality, or AR, you actually feel as though you’re physically part of that world. In the game we made, this would be the part where you actually feel the punches and sexual gratification. Our white box videogame is made of two parts VR, and one part AR, and it’s that one part AR that makes the whole scenario work. You need the ability to create a world, as well as, control that world, but also are able to feel in that world, for this to work to its best ability.
Thanks for reading everyone, and that’s all for now! If you liked, or felt informed, please leave a comment of your own on the subject down below. In the next instance of this article I’ll be going over some of the more practical, and societal applications of technology like this, and how it can benefit all of us, and not just be used to feed fantasy.
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