Dystopia, brought to you by…

*** SPOILER ALERT: This article contains plot information related to the book READY PLAYER ONE If you have not read the book and do not wish your experience spoiled, please return to this link when you’re ready (Player One). ***

My friend Alvin Wang Graylin, China Regional President of HTC Vive, recently authored a thoughtful op-ed piece entitled, “Real world lessons for the VR-First future: An industry insider’s analysis of READY PLAYER ONE”, the English version of which is published on technode.

As Alvin observes, Ernest Cline’s best-selling book, READY PLAYER ONE, is an insightful fictional take on our virtual reality future, and recommended reading for pretty much everyone, irrespective of your current interest (or lack thereof) in VR. READY PLAYER ONE imaginatively portrays the transformative possibilities of virtual reality across every aspect of our lives. The book also vividly illustrates the dystopian consequences that may arise from the neglect of actual reality in the embrace of virtual reality. At its core, READY PLAYER ONE is a cautionary tale of the consequences of immersive escapism in the face of increasing ecological crisis, economic disparity and socio-political disintegration.

I’ve given Alvin plenty of well-intentioned ribbing regarding HTC’s ongoing use of READY PLAYER ONE’s sandblasted mobile home stacks as a backdrop for their presentations on the “VR-first future.” Mobile home stacks are, to put it mildly, a bad ad: suitable for the poster image of VR contrarian / convert(?) Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming READY PLAYER ONE film adaptation, but questionable as consumer enticement for a VR hardware manufacturer. Imagine a surfboard company advertising with a JAWS poster. 😉

If, as maintained in the technode op-ed piece, “READY PLAYER ONE will do for VR what AVATAR did for 3D in general awareness,” the question naturally follows: “Does this awareness make the general public more or less favorably inclined towards VR?” In other words, is this “VR-first future” a future you want to live in? The hero of READY PLAYER ONE provides a succinct answer: “For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth.” His explanation doesn’t get any more complimentary from there.

The global energy crisis, wars, social calamities and ecological disasters which characterize daily life in READY PLAYER ONE aren’t caused by VR technology, but they are facilitated and exacerbated by it. Not only does technological saturation deplete the world’s resources, but VR escapism provides an easy alternative to real-world problem-solving: a new “opiate of the masses.”

I came away from READY PLAYER ONE with three thoughts… (full post on AWN)

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Dystopia, brought to you by…

The only VR metric that matters

Raise your hand if you have a family member who uses VR every day. (article on AWN)

The only VR metric that matters

My 2017 VR Wish List

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My 2017 VR Wish List is up on Animation World Network. Check it out!

My 2017 VR Wish List

Beijing Film Academy joins Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance council

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The Beijing Film Academy has joined the Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance (IVRA), with International Animation & Virtual Reality Research Center Executive Director Kevin Geiger serving as the school’s IVRA council representative.

The IVRA was established by HTC and other leading enterprises and research institutes in the VR area, under the guidance of China’s Electronic Information Division of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The IVRA aims to enhance the development of the VR ecosystem by promoting technological innovation, formulating industrial standards and bridging hardware, software, content, platforms and industrial applications.

Mr. Geiger noted: “HTC and their partners, in cooperation with the Chinese government, has provided a great service to the VR ecosystem in the form of the IVRA. As China’s first and foremost film school, the Beijing Film Academy is proud to serve on the IVRA council and to contribute to the evolution of immersive media.”

Beijing Film Academy joins Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance council

VR market soars during Trump presidency

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The harsh realities of Donald Trump’s presidency, including global recession, riots and the enactment of U.S. martial law, have been a boon to the virtual reality industry, which exceeded projections by breaching $444 billion USD in annual revenue in 2017, driven by demand from Trump detractors and supporters alike. (full post on AWN)

VR market soars during Trump presidency

The Three R’s

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Virtual reality is nothing new.  It’s been around for decades, tent-poled by a few signature eras.  The first of these was in the 1960’s, when Morton Heilig built a prototype of his “Experience Theatre” called the Sensorama, and Ivan Sutherland created the first VR and AR head-mounted-display (HMD) – a massive device that required ceiling suspension.  The second era was during the mid-80’s to mid-90’s, when Jaron Lanier founded VPL ResearchMattel’s VR Power Glove was available for just $75 USD, and the concept of virtual reality was popularized in movies such as THE LAWNMOWER MAN.  We are currently in the third era, a Facebook-fueled frenzy of global activity – leveraging on technological advances and accessibility – that just might achieve mass-market traction where previous attempts have failed.

Although awareness is growing, many people still either don’t know what VR is, or refer to everything as “VR.”  In China, for instance, “VR” is used as a catchall term encompassing virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.  On the other end of the spectrum are the technorati, who debate the fine points of whether 360-degree videos should be called “VR” and whether POKEMON GO qualifies as “true” AR.

In light of this and for your consideration, here are brief explanations of VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) that I’ve used when describing the technology to… (full post on AWN)

The Three R’s

China’s VR Gold Rush

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For the past couple decades, Western content professionals have generally displayed a patronizing attitude towards the Chinese entertainment industry and market, determined to “show the Chinese how it’s done.” I relocated to Beijing in 2008 with much the same mindset. However, the onset of the VR Era has resulted in a sea change, with foreign professionals astonished by the pace and penetration of China’s advances in virtual reality. China has truly become “The Wild Wild East” with respect to VR, the hottest battleground among global VR markets. Folks from the West who approach China with any pretensions soon find themselves… (full post on AWN)

China’s VR Gold Rush