It was Barfogenic, Man!

What . . . your latest LSD trip? No, man. My VR headset. Coolest thing on the planet. But, like, I always know I’m going to puke my brains out at the end of the trip. It’s just the deal, man.

 psychedelic forest

Yes. Ask anyone working in 3D animation and gaming. Virtual reality has been an interesting idea for a long time. And if they can ever figure out the nausea problem, it will be extraordinary.

We’ve been waiting for years. Sega thought they could overcome it in 1993, but all they managed to do was prove they could make users blow chunks — and they inspired Thomas Piantanida to coin the word “barfogenic.”

I heard about the Oculus Rift several years ago, but then a game art friend described seeing it demoed at a convention. Let’s say there were plenty of trash cans handy for the almost inevitable reaction. I put it out of my mind as a technology whose time had not yet come. The problem has been the lag time between head movement and the screen refresh of the goggles. Well, technology has leapt forward in just a few short months.

It was an Oculus Rift that inspired my current foray back into Second Life, and rekindled my excitement about what may be coming in the Metaverse. I have a DK2 kit on the way from Oculus as I write this. The latest version of the Rift is supposed to reduce lag to 2 milliseconds.

In “Virtual Reality Fails Its Way to Success,” Virginia Heffernan writes about her test of Ascend the Wall, the VR experience designed by Relevent and Framestore to promote HBO’s Game of Thrones. She described her experience as “immersive, transporting, revolutionary. But most of all, non-nauseating.” The Ascend the Wall experience was a big hit at conferences like SXSW this last March; Wired’s Lauren Hudson said her ride up in the cage was “startlingly effective.” Others weren’t so wild about the experience. The reporter from New Technology news said, “I’m glad I’ve done it, but I don’t think I want to do it again.”  (The New Technology review is in video format and will allow you to get a feel for what the Wall experience was like).

Last week, Oculus VR debuted their first Virtual Reality movie, about a hedgehog called “Henry.” Oculus Story Studio is tasked with creating four or five different short VR films as they explore and try to find out what the rules are for this new medium. We are off to the races now, people.

As a final note, just yesterday Stanford unveiled a new virtual reality headset that employs new technology, that may leapfrog past were Oculus currently stands. What an exciting time!

Image from Pixabay.

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