virtual worlds, oculus rift, facebook – the future? not in my opinion


in 2006 i got hooked big time on Second Life

over the next few years i’d build a 19 sim estate and have 101 tenants, post 15,000 images on flickr, get in the top 1.7% of web traffic, and garner 45k twitter followers. i even had nearly 4,000 facebook friends in january 2010 when facebook disabled my avatar account (probably shouldn’t have said i was a fake person in the fb bio!) =D

Second Life and virtual worlds were going to take over the world and IBM, Best Buy, Toyota, Coca-Cola, and so many other huge companies thought so too

remember Google’s O3D or Lively – the HTML embedded 3D rooms – now they’re wikipedia entries . . .

what about Oculus Rift?

facebook thought they were worth buying and Mark Zuckerberg is certainly a zillion times more enterprising than i’ll ever be but i can still pontificate and share my opinions

i would love to hear your opinions too because it’s opinions that made facebook wildly successful and also opinions that held SL back from taking over the world in 2006. your opinions are the votes that decide what the next big thing is and what becomes mainstream

my fallback reasoning for my opinion is looking at the web today. it’s by far mostly text

this blog with over 2000 posts, New World Notes written by the guy that was hired by SL to be their chronicler, and Maria’s Hypergrid Business – we all pontificate about virtual worlds and do so as deeply impassioned voices

but how many of those articles are done via video from the virtual world?

i could have done that here and Maria could do that just like Huffington Post has dozens of video blog posts per day (smooth eh Maria? lumped you in with Huff Post!)  =)

so why isn’t it done?

doing a news story at a desk as an avatar and posting to YouTube isn’t a heavy lift

text still rules supreme – it’s fast both in access and getting info, easily translatable (see sidebar for free 52 language translations), easy to digest, and cross-platform and multi-device compatible

the US government has been on the side of net neutrality (at least in saying so) but it’s now starting to shift and see why big companies like AT&T want to have their own “fast lanes” for their customers like Netflix (“it’ll be better the consumer”)

in our legally defined corporations are people country here in the US, it’s only a matter of time before we see high-priced access to the internet for some services. i believe there will always be a free part but it won’t be an even playing field anymore

and that’s a shame . . . =(

Oculus Rift made it big by starting on Kickstarter which is easy to access for most of the world

what happens when the internet isn’t so fast and isn’t so free?

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written by Ener Hax

April 24th, 2014 at 8:17 am

posted in virtual worlds

tagged with , ,

9 comments to 'virtual worlds, oculus rift, facebook – the future? not in my opinion'

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  1. well I am on the list, or I think I am, for alpha HiFi. but its a social vworlds, so I don’t have any idea at this point what my contribute will be. maybe nothing. I seem to be pretty at nothing.


    24 Apr 14 at 8:39 pm

  2. argh, no edit button.

    I seem to be pretty good at nothing. that what I wanted to say.


    24 Apr 14 at 8:41 pm

  3. Hi Ener,

    Text works great for sharing information, especially with people who want to consume it in small bite sizes and want to be able to skim most of what they read.

    Video works better for sharing information that can be experienced. Visuals can turn a boring article into an interesting clip. But creating a video people are willing to invest their time to view is often harder and more time consuming than writing a short article about the subject. Hence, even considering the millions of videos people have made discussing whatever they wish to share with the world, a lot less informational videos get created in comparison to articles.

    Virtual reality, however, isn’t about sharing information it’s about sharing experiences. You can passively enjoy a video but you can’t be part of it once it has been made. That isn’t true for virtual reality. Even if the activity you have in mind is educational, the majority of your focus is not on the information but with how you interact with it.

    Virtual worlds such as SL without the VR hardware couldn’t hold the mass market’s attention because they required people to spend a lot of time inworld before they started to experience immersion (and only a rare few ever felt presence in SL). Without that feeling, virtual worlds remained a type of game for the majority of people and, like with any other game, most people eventually lost interest.

    There couldn’t be a YouTube without cheap enough digital cameras, cheap enough bandwidth, cheap enough storage, etc. It wasn’t that the idea wasn’t good enough in the 90s, it just wasn’t really feasible to turn it into something with mass market appeal. The same thing is also true for VR. Previous attempts at bringing VR hardware to the mass market were (A) technologically primitive – giving a very bad user experience, and (B) made most people physically sick due to high lag between user movements and display updates, and (C) lacked software title support to make them more than a curiosity.

    The current generation of VR hardware can be sufficiently advanced and sold at a cheap enough price to be accessible to the mass market. As importantly, there are now thousands of teams building games and applications that will utilize this new VR hardware when it finally reaches the market.

    The TL;DR is that you should wait for the hardware to be out and for the games that are being built for it now to be available in Walmart for people to experience first hand, before you try to predict the future adoption of VR based on its past. Once people start owning VR hardware for entertainment they will also start using it for other things as well.

    Ilan Tochner

    24 Apr 14 at 10:46 pm

  4. Text rules because search engines (SEO) like text. If search engines start weighting videos and pictures more highly in ranking, then watch things change. :)


    25 Apr 14 at 6:29 am

  5. The lowest tech and highest accessible media will always be the dominant one to an extent. That’s why books are still the largest and best manner to share knowledge to the largest audience possible (also longer lasting than digital records).

    My perspective is different in wanting to see the internet as a tool that can lift all people and not just a select group that can afford VR glasses, higher bandwidth, or state-of-the-art machines to run OpenSim on. I am, arguably, a huge proponent for the use of OpenSim as an educational tool but I do realise that it excludes a great deal of the human population.

    Most excellent point Lynne on the search engine as an influencer!

    David Miller

    25 Apr 14 at 12:25 pm

  6. VR is bandwidth intensive, and the latest developments will have the effect of throttling bandwidth intensive applications. That pretty much spells the end of mainstream opensim adoption -it’s simply not going to be affordable or practical.

    Whatever “virtual reality” development comes down the pike is going to have to figure out a way to thrive in a world where little more than text will be able to get by.

    Han Held

    25 Apr 14 at 3:42 pm

  7. Virtual worlds have been a huge success in terms of online gaming. Playing a game is immersive, compared to socializing in a virtual world, which isn’t so much for most people. For example, going to a virtual disco and clicking your mouse to see your avatar awkwardly jerk in quasi-time to the music. Most people feel self-conscious about that, though yes, there are others who feel liberated in being able to assume a persona in a virtual world. But they are in a small minority.

    VR goggles, some kind of touchy-feely simulated interface — these might cause a mass migration into virtual worlds.

    As for myself, I would have visited virtual worlds more often but my computer just wasn’t powerful enough. I’d walk along and see objects gradually flicker into existence and it just wasn’t very immersive. I can understand how you might feel different if you have a souped up custom made computer that is state of the art, but in the real world, a huge number of people are still using Windows XP on computers that are the same generation. I’m ahead of that but still have issues with slowness.

    I suspect that many Virtual World developers and evangelists are unaware of this digital divide. “Oh, you have no idea what virtual world delights await you if only you spend $80 on a hypergraphics card!” Yes, but the average person is hit with countless ad pitches to buy this or that and they’re kind of insensitive to them by now.

    Perhaps virtual worlds for social interaction could be improved if (a) developers de-emphasized the highest possible resolution in favor of greater fluidity of the visual experience on older, lower power computers and (2) creators of virtual world content emphasized more game-like elements (eg, puzzles and mazes to solve, zombies or killer robots to avoid, points to accumulate, levels to ascend, and so on.)

    Engineer Zero

    1 May 14 at 2:10 am

  8. Maybe a few useful applications of VR-type stuff… medical spin-offs? All it takes is a bunch of medical scanners (x-ray, MRI etc.) and game console camera and some magic:

    Anyways, VR and 3D games have come a long way, but no one wants to wear weird or bulky headsets, or experience vertigo or nausea. I think it won’t be a big hit till it is fully immersive, fun, and believable (suspension of disbelief, as in movies) for the average user. And if it’s like most new technologies, it won’t go mainstream till the porn industry gets a hold of it, lol.

    We already have enough distractions that keep us from nature and the real world. Will your grandkids ever venture outside? Which reminds me of Project Wild Thing, a fun documentary to watch!
    (you can watch a clip or the whole film for free)


    3 May 14 at 4:59 am

  9. I’m with Ilan on this — the best medium is the most appropriate one for the job.

    The web is great for text, audio, and video. VR is great for immersive experiences.

    I’m in the information business, not the experience business, and my preferred medium is text with some images mixed in.

    If I was covering the fashion industry, I wouldn’t write all my articles on coats. If I was covering the travel industry, I wouldn’t uses trains to deliver the message.

    I’m guessing that it will take years, if not decades for true masters of the immersive medium to emerge.

    Consider television — it’s been around for decades. But the level and quality of story telling we’re getting today is dramatically (no pun intended) better than what we had at TV’s infancy.

    I kind of see myself as a print journalist in the early days of television, writing about the new medium, not really knowing what it would evolve into, but seeing opportunities for greatness in it.

    Maria Korolov

    20 May 14 at 11:59 am

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