The possibilities of virtual, augmented and mixed realities are full of potential that have yet to be unraveled. There have been attempts in the past to market VR to the public, i.e. Nintendo’s Virtual Boy of the mid-1990s. However, the technological overhaul that hardware has received in the past 20 years has made it faster, cheaper and capable of so much more. The immersive nature of highly developed virtual environments brought to VR goes further than past interactive media by placing the viewer directly into the experience. As more control, customization and environment manipulation is given to the user, the more immersive the experience will become. This has been seen with avatar customization and virtual environment studies (Boellstorff et al., 2012).
The cultural artifacts that VR/AR/Mixed Realities are creating are slowly drawing more attention. As the VR craze is new, there are few games or apps that VR users call out as the new Mario or Pacman. Yet, the hardware and what comes next is being reinforced by investment. Magic Leap has very little information released to the public about their Light Fields yet investors continue to trust where mixed reality and its potential profit as the new media is headed. The competitive market also is an indicator of a healthy revival and re-introduction of virtual and augmented realities to the consumer. Updates and upgrades to technologies are the cutting edge trend and a status symbol for many. This has been covered by the media as the masses are willing to stand in line for hours just to get their hands on the newest iPhone or gaming system.
The access to the different pricing levels is also allowing these technologies to be adopted by a greater extent. Samsung recently was including their GearVR headset with newly purchased phones, allowing access to the experience without the intent of purchasing it. This is an interesting diffusion of the technology and is a cunning tactic to get the next generation of VR to be easy entry for the inexperienced or unaware. By finding ways to introduce the public to new virtual formats, adoption will continue to happen. As of recently, Pokémon GO swept the world by storm with its launch and many were introduced to augmented reality because of the identification with a strong, global franchise.
The reintroduction of these new forms of media to the consumer market has led to a reinvestment in the development of the technology and as a game studies scholar I am fascinated by the new spatial concepts that are being questioned in human perspective. Eye tracking technology and spatial recognition are being implemented in game design and virtual environments furthering the immersive experience of the individual. With extensive research in avatars, MMORPGS (Multi-Massively Online Roleplaying Games) and immersion in video games, I find the new realities to be an evolutionary step in design and human perspective. What arguably defined art in the Renaissance was that perspective was introduced. As the current Hyperrealism art movement is an indicator of how close to reality we as artist and designers are trying to capture, now that we are creating on a new plane, the focus on perspective and the layers we are adding is inspiring a new rebirth of virtual and augmented realities.
Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C., & Taylor, T.L. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
O’Connell, K. (2016). Designing for Mixed Reality: Blending Data, AR, and the Physical World. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, Inc.