VR technology is something that is getting more and more expanded as the generation goes on. From more VR headsets coming into creation too media making works themed around the technology, its important to explore this and see how this can be tied to interactive fiction.
The media has explored the impact of VR technology in a few ways, but one that springs into my mind is an anime series called ‘Sword Art Online’. The premise behind the anime is that VR technology has advanced so much, at Massively Multiplayer Online games using the technology can be created, fully investing and pulling in people into fantasy worlds. People got a game called ‘Sword Art Online’ during its launch and learn that they cannot log out; they are trapped in this VR world.
The worse part is that if they die, they die in real life as well, making what was originally a fun VR adventure into another reality players have to fight through to come back to reality. The anime as a whole is honestly weak, as its representation of gender could be a lot better and the entire second half of season one squanders what made the premise interesting in the first place. But the messages the show touches on are important to consider when it comes to VR technology.
It shows the technology’s risk, a situation that happens in SAO could happen in real life or something similar to that could happen. It also shows how VR tech can stimulate reality; the characters interact with objects in the world like real things (food tastes like food, weapons/items have weight to them, they can feel pain, ect) and it has the interactive element that happens in real life (people meeting and talking to each other, forming relationships, ect). The show is one I personally enjoy despite its many issues and is a good show-case for VR in terms of its impact and potential.
Other anime explores VR technology too; .Hack has a similar set-up to SAO and Log Horizon takes SAO’s concept but adds more thought into it.
Regarding how VR is used in real life, the technology has had a lot of growth. Microsoft is making a device called the HoloLense, which is a head-set you put on and can see holograms around you. At E3 2015, they demonstrated this by having someone play a game of Minecraft using the technology, with the world being in complete control of the player using the HoloLenses. They could pull parts of the world out, make markers the other player can go too, and even zoom in and out of the world by stretching/pulling it. The issue with HoloLense is how limited its vision-area is; only a small box people wearing the headset could see but Microsoft is expanding on the technology. Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETzQWXuKQZQ
Another VR headset is Oculus Rift, a headset that was one of the first ones to come to marker (even having a Kickstarter that many backers pledged too). It is dependent on a powerful PC to use the technology but it adds to any game a person uses it with; First Person games are the devices strongest suit, as it effectively ‘puts you’ into the game world. Link to a demo of the technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA1dSJ3j-9o
Lastly, Sony is making a VR headset of their own, called PS VR. This is coming out sometime in 2016 and Sony is investing in the technology with their own studios making games for the tech and having many developmental partners making software/ensuring existing software by them works with it. Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw6x80Qdzak
What makes VR so interesting is how it can suck you into the games world. First Person games like The Parable of Stanley, Gone Home, the upcoming No Mans Sky and many others benefit from VR tech and can pull you into the worlds the technology creates.