Real Virtual Reality
November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
Many of the scientific advances in the next 50 years will be surprising and difficult to predict now. Nevertheless, there are certain technological fields with plausibly predictable futures. One such field is video games. The major advances in video games seem to accompany a change in perspective. The old games were generally presented from a two-dimensional perspective, and newer games often take place in three dimensions. This change in perspective was accompanied by more detailed and realistic graphics. This is unsurprising because we live in a three-dimensional environment and games that take place in three dimensions and have more detailed graphics naturally feel more immersive. However, holding a controller and looking at a screen remain large barriers to true immersion. Therefore, I think that in the next 50 years, virtual reality gaming will be developed. It is quite possible that this would happen in conjunction with advances in neuroscience. A futuristic gaming controller might essentially be a miniature fMRI machine that projects your motor intentions onto your character in the video game.
The social ramifications of such a technology would be vast. Apart from creating highly immersive video games, you could potentially visit anywhere without ever leaving your home. A remaining barrier to immersion would be the lack of environmental effects on the player. Without it being an invasive procedure, I do not see how a game could project qualia from the in-game character onto the player. How would the game make you feel the weight of your character’s weapon or the tiredness of activity? Consider even more subjective phenomenon. How would the game make you feel the protagonist’s jubilation when he has achieved his goal? Therefore, while virtual reality gaming may greatly increase the immersion of gaming, there are certain qualities that are difficult and indeed potentially dangerous to impart on the player technologically and are better left to the player’s imagination, which is the most fundamental tool of immersion.