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VR is Not Stalled

VR is Not Stalled,

Producing and Distributing VR in Rural Cambodia

Relative to what? What is the model of growth that innumerable tech journalists compare VR to and conclude it is failing, or more charitably, that it has stalled?

Is it TV sets, or home computers, or iPhones? I don’t really care.

If this is stalled, I hope it stays stalled forever.

I don’t use virtual reality every day, like I use an iPhone or used to use a TV set. I am in virtual reality every day.

I hang out with friends there. I help lead gatherings where people talk about stuff that matters and is hard to talk about IRL. I also go to parties there. And fly.

All this time, and in all the different things I do in VR, no corporation is making any money off me. Yet. Probably I am being tracked at some level, but it’s minimal. All the VR numbers are minimal at this point compared to, say, Facebook.

When people say VR is stalled, what they are really saying is, there is no sufficiently aggregated mass market, yet (because it is assumed to be inevitable), that can be objectified and commodified and targeted in order to sell stuff.

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Aw, too bad. What a disappointment.

You can see it in the headset packaging. Logos of the familiar brands, implicitly telling us as we unbox our new device that we are meant to consume content from the same old same old, and pay for it.

You can see it in the set-up instructions, that refer to a ‘Safe Play Area,” as if that is all we are capable of. Play. That pisses me off so much.

Go Play With Yourselves, you greedy bastards who think your fellow humans exist to be exploited by you. We aren’t kids. We’re not playing. We can do better than buy your crap. We will if we feel like it for light entertainment on the side, but you will never be the main event, not if I can help it.

Virtual Reality and all synthetic realities give us a way to connect deeply with each other that no medium has ever done before. When we are in virtual worlds together, We Are Together, and we feel able to communicate very deeply and freely.

Goddamn it, This Is Not A Game!

It is a real chance to build new communities and even new worlds where we treat each other the way we want to be treated.

And it is going just fine.

Every day more people discover what is actually happening on social VR platforms, as opposed to what journalists tell us isn’t happening. It is growing at a perfect pace to integrate newcomers, welcome them, show them what the culture is like.

I’m very pleased that the growth curve is not more attractive to investors betting on The Next Big Thing.

Here’s an Idea: What if The Next Big Thing is People?

People are endlessly entertaining. Put into the right world, we can get along and have meaningful experiences that make everyone feel good. We’re free software for each other to be with.

Right, I know I sound like a naive young jerk, which I am. I just happen to be a 71 year old naive young jerk who has been around some and who has been an early adopter of all media technologies since about 1956. I’ve seen how it goes. I was lovin’ my GeoCities websites back in 1995. The bullshit that we have now isn’t what I thought was going to happen.

I know we are dancing with the devil now in VR.

Whatever critical mass been achieved that I am proclaiming to be, ‘fine,’ has come about in no small part through the efforts and the multi-billion dollar investment ultimately by one super powerful human, Mark Zuckerberg. I don’t think any one person should have that kind of power and I definitely don’t believe that one greedy and fraud-prone entity should own all the data that VR activity generates.

The reason I think VR is going just right is specifically because Zuck can’t make a ton of money off us yet. I think people who want to do more in virtual worlds than consume commodified crap are finding each other and building relationships and networks. I know the monopoly control-freak capitalists are coming after us, coming after me.

We can stay a step ahead of them. Facebook owes its power to the cumulative decision by lots of people to give attention to one app, one website, of all the apps and websites out there. They are losing; in fact, they have already lost. Virtual Reality is actually Facebook’s life preserver. I have no idea what’s going to happen.

I think there will be open source VR platforms that will be subscriber-supported in kind of a Bernie Sanders-style broad-based approach. I think there will be new generations of headsets and other devices that could be kickstarted and even cooperatively owned businesses. Capitalists baiting the trap with free cheese isn’t the only way things get developed.

We could use some more time, so please keep spreading the news of what an under-performer the whole VR thing turned out to be. We’re not ready for Coca-Cola ads on every virtual corner yet, so yeah, best for the marketing folks to sneer.

By the time they figure it out, I hope we’ll be gone to other worlds that they will also find to be sorely lacking in upside potential.

Don’t forget to give us your ? !


VR is Not Stalled was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Tom Nickel

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