Are Virtual Worlds Really So Far Away?

What with the recent releases of both the Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move peripherals for their respective consoles, you might have found yourself wondering (I certainly did) just how close we are to achieving virtual reality?

Virtual reality has been a subject of speculation in both sci fi and science for some time now, and has been around in books, films and video games for years. William Gibson’s Neuromancer, for example, arguably formed at least some of the inspiration for the Wachowski brothers’ blockbuster The Matrix, and 1982’s Tron (a sequel and prequel video game on the way) was one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies to occupy itself with a fully immersive virtual world and its dangers.


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Infamous MMO Second Life (and indeed MMORPGs as a whole) is often accused of causing hopeless addiction in its players. Indeed, its status as a computer game, virtual world or talker (basically an Internet chat system) is still contested to this day.

Aside from video gaming, virtual reality has been shown to have a variety of current – and proposed future – uses. Fine artist David Em, for example, has created navigable virtual worlds since the 1970s, and virtual reality interfaces are utilised to both treat and educate.

We may be some decades away from fully immersive virtual reality as today’s science fiction portrays it, but technological advances such the Playstation Move and Kinect are bringing us ever closer to this exciting (and potentially scary) goal. In the same vein, who can honestly say long it will be before we’ll be surrounded by robots? Japan in particular has made more than a few rather impressive ones, after all.

The future is coming.

 

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