For the past few months I’ve had the privilege of having open access to an optimal virtual reality environment. There’s a big studio space with a beefy computer and an HTC Vive connected to it. In theory it’s awesome, but I’ve found my desire to take advantage of it waned more and more over time.
For context, I was part of an internship program at my college to investigate whether VR was a viable technology to bring into the classroom. I’d weigh all factors, be it gaming, education or whatever. If it was a unique VR experience, I was supposed to look at it and make a value judgement against it. It was a really broad concept that didn’t really have much in the ways of boundaries, which is probably a factor in why my interest in VR has plummeted.
Let me clarify here, I don’t hate VR. In fact, if anything I’m more excited about VR as a technology than ever before. It really is what all the gaming outlets described it as, where you need to try it to understand it. But that’s well worn territory.
What really fell out of favor for me was just getting myself excited to use it. Here we had this optimal set up, the sensors were set up almost all the time, and the space was clear. Essentially, all I had to do was put on the helmet and go. But I rarely wanted to.
Maybe it was a lack of software that killed my drive for it. We had some things like Job Simulator and Duck Season, even SUPERHOT VR at the ready. Those experiences were fun for sure, but not something I’d want to do for extended periods of play. We found some fun and interesting free applications as well which helped add variety to the mix, but it never really clicked for me. I had fun with these games and experiences, but after the first few times in them, the fun for me really boiled down to showing it to other people and getting their reactions.
There was a sound design class that rolled into the studio that got to play around with Sound Stage, the now unsupported music creation software. It’s a super robust and intuitive beat maker to say the least. If you have a Vive, I would recommend it, especially considering the developers dumped the files online for free. But that was probably the high point in my demonstrations. Being able to see a class look at this technology and have it instantly click how cool it is was an awesome feeling.
But that was it for me really. Showing the technology got to be more interesting than actually using it myself. At first, I’d get multiple people asking me for demos and opportunities to play around, but lately no one really seems interested. Somehow virtual reality got mundane for everyone involved.
Still, in the end VR is still a super exciting concept to me. Maybe the reason for it waning in popularity in our space is on me. Maybe people just don’t quite grasp the concept of it until I forcibly strap this helmet to their heads. Or maybe virtual reality isn’t the thing that gets people excited after all. Maybe mixed reality or augmented reality are the ones that will catch on. But for now, the desire to “get virtual” just isn’t there for most people, myself included.