A growing number of Hollywood filmmakers, entertainment industry executives, and video game producers believe virtual reality will be the next big revolution in mass entertainment. Facebook, Sony, and other tech companies are developing the necessary technologies, while entertainment startups and major studios are developing the content. In addition to video games, entertainment professionals are also looking to use VR for marketing, social, and storytelling purposes.
Developers have almost unlimited possibilities in creating worlds for VR content. Games are one important aspect of the technology, but so are the opportunities involving live events and storytelling. The experiences that are already available include a zombie-hunting video game, a live boxing match, and a CG trip to outer space.
“Virtual reality is about worlds, and larger stories that are not a specific thread of a singular story,” said producer Jon Landau. “People talk about the second screen. It’s the ultimate second screen.”
However, Hollywood is still figuring out how to combat some of the obstacles of VR, especially the “simulator sickness” or nausea from moving around in a virtual world. Developers will have to design smaller, but more visually rich worlds and locomotion methods that will not induce simulator sickness.
Being unable to see a person’s arms and body in a virtual reality world can also be very disorienting to players. VR users with their headphones and headsets also want to be able to interact with other people, so developers are working on adding avatars and making VR more social.
Virtual reality will be coming to the masses as early as the end of this year. Several companies are developing VR technology, including Facebook, Sony, Samsung, and Avegant. Facebook purchased Oculus to the tune of $2 billion. The highly anticipated Oculus Rift VR headset will debut on the market for $350. Project Morpheus (pictured above), Sony’s VR venture that is compatible with PlayStation 4, is set to rival Oculus’ system.
Virtual reality may be the next big thing, but it’s actually been used for several decades. According to architectural historian Hilary Lewis,“What (Disney) did at the theme parks was take all the talents they had in developing film and apply that to creating a three-dimensional space you could walk around in. If that’s not the beginning of virtual reality, I don’t know what is.”