The tech blogs are outdoing themselves to gush praise on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s megabillions bet on virtual reality company Oculus Rift sample the excitement below from Gizmodo); but do disinfonaut skeptics have other ideas as to what’s driving Zuckerberg’s interest in VR?
The news today that Facebook will buy Oculus—the makers of the best virtual reality experiencein existence—caused paroxysms of upsetment and surprise. That’s fair! But once the smoke clears, this could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the most promising technology we have.
If you’ve been tracking Oculus since its early days as a Kickstarter project, today’s acquisition is frustrating. Facebook is your trying-too-hard uncle; Oculus is the homecoming queen. Of course seeing them together would give you the creeps.
It shouldn’t. Oculus offered a beautiful dream, but you can only get so far on Kickstarter funds. Facebook offers the financial wherewithal to make the Oculus Rift a truly mass product, to realize its vision beyond just a gimmick-driven game engine. Even better, it looks like Mark Zuckerberg gets what makes Oculus so special.
Let It Rift
We’ve seen Oculus do lots of amazing things so far. It can take you up the Game of Thrones ice wall, or turn Unreal Engine 4 games into something that feels very, very real. Even the Navy leans on it for its next-generation war games.
Neat, right? Also limiting. Virtual reality has historically been applied to gaming, and that’s how Oculus began as well. But VR’s roots—especially the goofy headset version—are from an age that predates the bandwidth we have today, the drive towards connectivity, the densely layered social tissue that Facebook and Twitter and Skype and WhatsApp have spent the last decade cultivating. Despite lofty dreams of a VR internet, technical limitations have made VR games a closed circuit, a way for you and maybe one friend to pretend that you weren’t in the room—or mall concourse—you were actually in. But it can be so much more. Facebook gets that…
[continues at Gizmodo]