Virtual Reality: it’s the new 3D! Expensive, consumers don’t want it and it makes you throw up.


3D technology has been the next big thing for only the last sixty years. It offers amazing improvements over ordinary moving images: darkness, muddier colours, blurriness, headaches from watching for more than twenty minutes and slower action sequences so the viewer doesn’t bring up their last meal.

Literally the only reason for 3D from 2009 to 2012 was so that the entertainment industry could sell you the movies and gadgets you already had again for twice the price. They were actually surprised when it turned out to be awful rubbish nobody wanted.

So let’s repeat history, with Virtual Reality! The music industry is convinced it’s the next big thing, will make it rain money again like CDs used to in the 1990s and will definitely lead us to a bright and happy future of fruit and flowers for all!

So far it’s doing every bit as well as 3D. If that made you throw up

  • Your eyes tell your brain one thing, your inner ear tells it another. The contradiction sends a red alert to your stomach. This is worse with VR than with 3D.

  • Refresh rate has to be at least 90 frames per second. The attempts to fudge this on old content should be spectacular.

  • When you come out of the VR, the real world will make you throw up. This is called “simulator sickness”:

    Back when the first full flight simulators for pilots went online, researchers noticed a problem. Pilots who had logged hours in an actual airplane were getting sick when flying in a sim, while pilots who had logged hours in a sim would get sick when they flew a plane. It’s called simulator sickness, is virtually identical to VR motion sickness, and might be the most profound problem for VR to overcome.

  • Nobody wants to wear the stupid glasses any more than they did for 3D.

Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus Rift, thinking of it as “the next important, or one of the next most important computing platforms.” You can subscribe to cinematic VR!

Vive users will have to pay $20 a year to access premium content like Deepak Chopra’s “Finding Your True Self” and Tyler Hurd’s “Old Friend,” whereas Gear VR users are charged $8 a year for content that also works on mobile headsets.

And for true crawling horror, Benji Rogers of dot.blockchain crosses virtual reality hype with blockchain hype.

I also just mentioned VR out loud as I was writing this and had a gamer game industry professional rant at me about the appalling state of VR in games, and the relevant Steam category being somewhat 3D VR-enabled rehashes of old titles. The main group actually interested is failing phone manufacturers.

The Steam promotional page video presents the closest you’ll get to an authentic virtual reality experience in a 2D video image: shakycam that started my eyes hurting and my stomach objecting. (Try the above video full screen.)

Even the notoriously payola-riddled YouTube “let’s play” video sector (a category with which I am intimately familiar, having a small child who watches nothing else) is having trouble pushing this garbage, because you just can’t get a 2D video that presents any sense of it without nauseating the viewer, and no nine year old is going to nag their parents into buying a video game vomit comet.

But don’t worry, there should still be at least a year or two of hype for terrible devices nobody wants: venture capitalists are still investing in VR startups. And government funding remains on the cutting edge of the last big thing.

5 thoughts on “Virtual Reality: it’s the new 3D! Expensive, consumers don’t want it and it makes you throw up.

  1. Oh come on, she watches other stuff as well! Like the Slow-Mo Guys blowing shit up! Which, granted, sometimes isn’t that much different from the “Let’s Play” videos….

  2. Actually, that was only the video in which they INTENTIONALLY made him puke specifically for a video. He’s puked in slow-mo on other videos – just check out the cinnamon challenge one….

  3. i think VR could have its place but im not sure that its in the home, as it stands there are too many barriers, i dont find it causes me any real nausea, maybe a slightly odd feeling for a min after taking the headset off but not much more. The real issues are the cost and space required

    but that doesnt have to be the end for it, most people cant afford a go cart or bowling lane either and for that reason there are places you can go instead, while getting someone to actually attempt the idea here in the west will be somewhat difficult (although even my crappy town has a laser tag place and a bowling alley so why not a VR umm, thing) dropping VR booths/rooms into arcades in places like japan would be easy and likely work very well, arena battlers like gunslinger stratos would be easy to adapt for VR.

    While it may fail in the home and the eventual “winner” for end users will almost certainly be an AR/Mixed reality system like hololens i think that while not likely to be something in every home VR will have its place and likely do very well in that niche

  4. I think the greatest moment in the history of VR technology, and possibly a contender for the greatest moment in the history of digital technology at large, is when Google released their competitor for VR headsets and it was a cardboard box you put your phone into.

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