I came across this post on Twitter – Second Life 2.0: Virtual World Recreates the Real You.
After reading through the article, I’m not so sure I want VR to be more real. I mean, there’s only one of me. I have different facets of my personality, and I like to express those different facets in multiple ways. But adding all those together is what makes me ME.
Humans are fascinated by the thought of making more and more realistic robots (avatars?) – Asimov’s I, Robot (which was a tad different from the Will Smith movie version), Bicentennial Man (which I loved), AI, even Blade Runner. And who could forget Melanie Griffith in Cherry 2000? (Because what man doesn’t dream of a robot wife, right?)
But there’s always something just a little bit creepy about how ‘human’ robots could become. So when the article mentioned that High Fidelity will use your webcam to mimic facial expressions, I had to pause. First, I don’t want to have to run my webcam to play in SL or High Fidelity. Second, it’s kind of creepy. Yes, there is a real person behind the avatar, but VR is never going to be as ‘real’ as face-to-face, in my opinion. Third, I can’t see how using a webcam and wearing a headset and glove is going to make me feel like ‘I’m really there!’
It seems that everyone thinks that VR is headed for the mainstream. I’m not so sure.
People want maximum gain for minimum effort. Putting on tons of gear to sit down in front of a computer, log in to a virtual world, and then have a meeting seems like a lot of extra work when you could just Skype. There’s a lot of talk about how much more we could accomplish using VR. I’m not sure that’s true, either.
A lot of people like the internet and VR games because of the anonymity they afford and the ability to be something or someone completely different than who they are in real life. It’s why so many people don’t like to use voice, but instead would rather type chat. Typing also makes it possible to multi-task, something that many people are required to do on a daily basis. Right now, if I’m in SL and one of my kids needs something, the phone rings, whatever – I get up, take care of it, and come back. Using the Oculus, wearing a glove, etc. etc. makes it that much harder to move seamlessly from one thing to the next.
Right now, while I certainly see possibilities for VR, I’m not convinced it will live up to the hype.
I’m still waiting for my flying car that folds into a briefcase (a la The Jetsons) or for a food replicator so that I can stop living at the grocery store. (You wouldn’t believe how much teenagers eat!) Or for a teleporter – how cool would it be to be able to teleport to Paris for lunch? Or the UK for tea? Or Down Under for an afternoon swim? Those are the kinds of things the ‘real’ me wants!