Are Virtual Reality Devices Like the Oculus Rift Just a Fad?

oculus rift

Drawing praise from industry titans like Gabe Newell (CEO of Valve) and John Carmack (id Software) while also sporting 1.2 million dollars in consumer donations through its headline-making Kickstarter launch, you would think that the new virtual reality device known as the Oculus Rift is the best thing to ever happen to the gaming industry. And not that it isn’t — it most certainly could be a revolutionary step in the field of modern gaming.

But is it not important to take a look at the reality and implementation of these devices first before declaring it the epitome of absolute gaming nirvana?

The specs on the Oculus are certainly quite impressive, with the creators touting a wide field view which works out to be about 110 degrees. In comparison, most headsets only offer maybe 40 degrees, almost 1/3 the figures reported the creators of the Oculus Rift. To put it in further perspective, each eye will actually be experiencing a 640×800 dimension LCD screen with the Oculus, totaling a 1280×800 720p resolution.

Add to the list stereoscopic 3D rendering, a host of inputs like DVI, HDMI, and USB, and it’s easy to see why even some of the biggest figures in the tech sector are super excited about this advancement. And perhaps even easier to see why it only took a few short hours for the Oculus Rift developers kit to surpass its stated goal of $250,000 and ultimately exceed 1.2 million at the time of writing.

So what could possibly make this advancement fall into the category of a ‘fad’ or gimmick?

Truthfully, it seems rather apparent that the long-term future of gaming really does rest in some form of virtual reality device. Whether it’s an instrument similar to the all-inclusive Project Glass by Google or more geared towards the one-purposed Oculus, it’s definitely going there. Therefore, it’s important to note that the real concern here is that people (and the industry at large) may simply not be ready for the Oculus Rift. The challenges can be dated back to the 90s, in which the virtual reality device trend both debuted and departed.

As exemplified by id Software’s John Carmack’s (who is a fan and hopeful of the Oculus as I mentioned earlier) quest to find the answer to the virtual reality spectrum, it can be quite a difficult thing to make stick. In an interview with IGN, Carmack’s story reveals not only how virtual reality devices ended up bombing in the 90s due to rushed technology, but also how even current day devices just don’t cut it:

“The Rift is the best headset of its kind Carmack has ever seen. After id Software shipped Rage, Carmack decided to check up on the status of virtual reality, something he hadn’t looked at since the early 1990s. “We did a bunch of deals with people way back with Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake and they were all loser deals with companies that went bankrupt. That was not the right time,” he said. He assumed there’d been a lot of progress in the meantime. He bought a few headsets and was disappointed.”

Could the Oculus change the entire industry and make virtual reality a lasting trend in the marketplace, or is the world still not ready for this advancement to become a streamlined gaming device?

Carmack and others think it’s very possible, but nothing is for sure. The explosive launch of the technology via Kickstarter and social media certainly signifies interest, but the general public may disagree. It’s certainly really exciting to think about when it comes to how it could apply to the FPS genre as well as perhaps racing games and beyond. The possibilities are quite endless.

In an experienced tone of hope mixed with a pinch of doubt, Carmack summarizes on how the Oculus may just be the beginning:

“This is not the promised land, but you can see the promised land from here. We need to figure out what steps we need to do to get there. I think that can happen largely over the next year.”

Checkout the Kickstarter video for the Oculus for some further visuals:


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3 Comments on "Are Virtual Reality Devices Like the Oculus Rift Just a Fad?"

  1. Dan August 5, 2012 at 6:26 am - Reply

    I would say it’s somewhat of a fad.. but I agree with the article that it will eventually be pretty big. Well written nice work.

  2. Bob September 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Lack of a community feneilg is one of the things that has kept me from really enjoying WoW. So used to the public chat channels on EQ2, getting to know folks from Crafting and Homeshow, chatting with the elite (and often egotistical, but still interesting) in 80-89, watching the trolls in 1-9, and even joining in the various roleplay channels. Remove the few bad apples, and there’s actually a thriving community of folks there who are looking for groups, seeking help, offering assistance, having fun, etc.It’s been rare that I’ve had to wait very long for anyone to toss out an open invite to a public channel to run a dungeon. Running a specific dungeon can sometimes result in a much longer wait, especially if you’re working on your weekly Velium Shard Dominance quest. I may use the new EQ2 Dungeon Finder specifically for this sort of scenario, but I doubt it’ll replace the public chat channels, at least for me. Of course, there will soon be those pricks in the public chat channels that yell at us for advertising in channel, and tell us to go use the Dungeon Finder instead. Little do they know, they’ll be adding their signature to the death warrant of EQ2. =(

  3. Garreth March 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    how do i get a demo again?
    ps i was looking for what to do for my technical grafics project and this i way better than what i thaught of!

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