I remember clearly the first time I saw a Virtual Reality headset: The year must have been 1996 or 1997, and this red thing in front of me was nothing short of an oddity in the department store where it was lying around — forsaken and ignored by the masses. A virtual boy awaited within my reach, wanting to be tried, and most definitely being not something I was at all interested at a time.
Fast forward 20 years into the future, as I spent some time in MIGS 2016 at the beginning of this week, and easily a good third of the show floor was covered in VR headsets and games using the same technology.
Being in the videogame industry, I have had the chance to see VR evolve from a gimmick to an industry with potential, and now an industry that has a money flow so large that it is sure to be able to compete with traditional gaming in its own line of entertainment.
The technology is rough around the edges, and the hardware is nothing short of extremely expensive for what it is, but I somewhat have a feeling that this time VR and AR are here to stay for good. This good me plentifully thinking on how much technology, and not only that related to virtual and augmented reality, has advanced. Still as a child I got to see the days when there were no 3D games, and now we live in a day and age where we have people who submerge themselves in VR environments for a living. Talking to co-workers, it is mindblowing to hear that some of them have dreams that look and feel as the Virtual Reality games that they play in a daily basis: Their brains are starting to process thoughts and are generating dreams in the same kind of environments and geometries that they are used to seeing.
Thinking about this situation and about similar ones I have experienced myself, such as the months I spent dreaming in third person since I was testing a third person role playing game for months for 12 hours every day nonstop, have left me wondering how far the human brain can be pushed, and what direction it can be stirred towards depending on the visual and cognitive stimuli it receives.
If a videogame, and more specifically a VR game is capable of bending the brain towards completely forgetting what its human form actually feels and looks like, one can only imagine how far that frontier can be pushed — towards a world where human brains live immersed in digital realities where the shape of the human body is discarded in irrelevance, and our brains learn to live, inhabit, and operate bodies far beyond our own humanity.
Imagine a game, one where the user is not contained in a human body, but perhaps an inhuman body with different types of limbs or perhaps more than a normal one would. A game where the users can make use of controllers of a certain type to control this inhuman body of theirs through an environment very much resembling an alien world of non-euclidean geometry. A world unlike our earth that allows their minds to go where only dreams could take it. Imagine the human brain coping between the extraordinary worlds of virtual reality and the reality that we call Earth, and the constant battle that rages every time it produces a dream.
It is a great world we live in.
The day where this happens is not yet here, and while it may still be far into the future, perhaps a small jump in technology will drive us into that direction. A direction where the human mind is set free in digital worlds of wonder.