Charles Jan Anders writes in Real Life how our visions of virtual reality have changed in the past 40 years. I read the article and thought to myself even before I began reading, “well, we’re not virtual anymore, we have incorporated the physical world into our virtual world, so the lines have blurred”, and my second thought is that it has always been reality. Yes, some of it has been fantasy, but the human experience is the same. We are immersed in information and we have to figure out how to adapt to the environment that we are immersed in. We learn to perceive the environment, ascertain what resources are needed, then which ones are available. Then we find a home base and collect resources until some sort of conflict happens in the environment. So now, let’s see what he says.
So I read it again and I walked away not seeing how virtual reality has changed, but how graphics have changed. I saw cinema, not virtual reality. I saw depictions of virtual reality, with me looking at a lot of 2D images that were used to show “otherly spaces”. I didn’t see places where people were interacting, making decisions, advancing their own story.
So I offer this.
Virtual worlds, virtual reality is about allowing individuals to transport themselves across time and space, and to interact with others to achieve goals, build things, combat things using digital technology – some of the environment may be graphical, some of it may be physical. Graphical images can be manipulated. Physical artifacts can be wired with sensors to produce information. The key is to play with these things – to make them do something for you – to put them together – take them apart – share them – pile them up, anything that allows you to experiment and do some serious play.
If I were going to talk about how virtual reality has changed in the last 40 years, I would say we no longer watch virtual reality – we can actually build a part of our lives in it.
Virtual reality has evolved into immersive environments – places where people can interact and create a new culture.