Thoughts on Oculus Rift, modding, and assessing games journalism and criticism

Gaming journalism is, by some accounts, a broken field. By others, its unjournalistic process is a symptom of reporting online, where advertising revenue is minimal, at least when compared to revenue from newspapers or magazines. And that isn’t just exclusive to gaming journalism — most outlets, both online and in print, face an uncertain future under the weight of a change in the way we absorb news and opinion. (The change is evident when you account for how many sites have recently undergone a design to accommodate tablets better. USgamer, Kotaku and Polygon among others.)

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That’s why gaming press seems like a corrupt industry, when it should be incorruptible. Corporate apologetics, publisher-granted exclusive reviews, mostly non-hard-hitting, superfluous bits to appease the companies. All of this is how modern journalism operates. (As an experiment, check notable outlets or magazines and look for the term “sponsored content”. More sites do it than you’d think.) But when the revenue stream is one-tenth of historical norms, journalists must find ways to continue writing, and that sometimes involves looking for sponsors. It’s not optimal, it’s not prestigious, it goes everything I learned in journalism school, but hey, money rules the world.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYOT7SsC.x?p=1 width=”720″ height=”433″]

Initially, I’m excited about using it for actors: there’s no reason it can’t work directly with the MVN mocap suits we use, and having actors able to see the virtual environment they’re acting in is a pretty mind-blowing concept. I may need to invest in a supply of sick-bags, though…

I’m also working on a virtual camera for the Rift, some tests of aiming cameras WITH MY FACE, the previously-mentioned preview suite, and more. Look for a post specifically about the Rift and filmmaking later this week or early next.

But for now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a demon-filled corridor in Doom 3 that I’ve got to go be scared witless by…

Issues like over-crowding start to fade away. Of course, physical education can’t be replaced (yet?), but actual problems that plague education for students, both young and old could be eradicated completely. Suddenly, post-secondary education becomes affordable once again. Taught by real teachers to real students with those social interactions at the core.

Political events could be attended by anyone. Having the ability to view political discussions on the hill are possible today through various news outlets, or public broadcasting. With integration of Oculus, you could physically be there, sitting there, watching anything and everything unfold as if you were actually there. Having something like this might increase public knowledge of the workings of government, and help youth become passionate about issues that really require their attention.

With both software and hardware modders growing in numbers at a staggering rate, and one that will presumably continue to increase, it’s safe to say that modding is the future of gaming. A single person or group of people going out of their way to improve the gaming experience for themselves and others for non-profit was almost unimaginable during the early stages of the industry. Today, it is the norm, albeit still a relatively underground one. Yet just as the amount of people who play games has risen dramatically over the years, I believe the same is destined to repeat itself for modders. In order for gaming companies to solidify their foothold in the industry, the implementation of cooperation with their target audience will soon be paramount.

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2 comments

  1. Hugh Hancock

    Thanks for the mention!

    Yeah, like the IGN reporter I’m very excited by the non-gaming possibilities of the Rift. Whilst it’ll be driven in early adoption by gaming (and porn. Don’t underestimate the lure of VR porn), in the long run it’s going to change far more than that.

    Personally, playing through Half-Life 2’s opening sequence, menaced by faceless guards and coralled into an interrogation chamber, I thought of its potential as an awareness-raising tool. Charities like Amnesty International could create scenarios which are both compelling and do a very good job of giving viewers an emotional, gut-level understanding of the horrors they’re fighting.

    • Curry Chandler

      The range of potential non-gaming uses for Oculus Rift is staggering. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to get my hands on a set. Your mention of using it and motion capture suits for filmmaking made me think of the controversial animatic from the George Zimmerman trial. The defense team hired a company who takes investigation data and recreates crime scenes using actors in mocap suits. Could we one day see a jury box filled with people wearing VR goggles? An upcoming post is going to have more non-gaming uses for the Rift along with other wearable tech and augmented reality topics. Thanks for reading!

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