AR/VR gamers are basically trying to reinvent the field of interactive entertainment. Whereas right now, a mere controller is the piece of kit that enables a player to interact with a game, developers in the realm of VR are tasked with more advanced aspects of the human form and its limitations. AR developers, on the other hand, need to come to terms with transferring a relatively mundane existence into something that needs to bear some semblance to a game.
Nintendo may have made a bucketload of cash from Pokemon Go but its developers were tasked with the unenvious assignment of placing Pokemon all over the world without boring adults or frustrating children.
Tricking our senses into believing they’re interacting with reality doesn’t come without problems. Unconvincing animated or rendered human faces might be forgivable on television but in the world of VR, it can result in somewhat of a creepy or particular revulsion. It will take some effort to work around this without vast amounts of investments into time and money. Some of the more successful VR pieces have steered clear from even attempting naturalistic modelling.
Masahiro Mori, in his famous article from 1970, invented the term “uncanny valley”. He noted that an artist who manufactures Buddha statues creates a model of a wooden-made hand with the fingers bending at the joints. While it leaves no fingerprints, it takes on wood’s natural colour and we sense its beauty over its uncanniness. He asserted that the wooden hand could inspire future design.
A separate reality
For instance, players explore vividly-coloured, cartoon-style puzzle landscapes that appear as huge mechanical heads in the game GNOG and SuperHyperCube is a neon version of Tetris, one of the most exciting and popular games in history. Neither appears anything like reality as we know it to be.
Yet their physicality and art direction are so consistently impressive that such games occupy their very own “virtual reality”. In addition to being impressive from a creative standpoint, they have conjured methods of getting around the more practical challenges presented by the medium.
If you’ve been listening to Facebook or Apple, you’ll have heard that AR and VR will not only enhance the way in which we consume media in a physical sense, it will replace it. When the most successful businesses in history invest so much in a technology, it’s almost inevitable that it will take over some niche or other. And likely on a very large scale.
Televisions, smartphones, and game systems will be mere headset apps. Pokemon will be wilder and freer than ever. Viewing movies on full-sized hardware screens will only be something we enjoy in a retro sense. We’ll all be wearing fragile and costly accessories over our eyes, and quite possibly all of the time. These glasses will mediate any connection we have with reality. Whether you feel this is entertaining or something to fear depends on how you view it.