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The “Year of VR” is coming to an end. Can we finally agree it’s not a fad?

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

2016 is touted as the “Year of VR”. Yet, I keep reading and hearing people talk about VR being a passing fad. I can totally understand why. VR headsets are bulky and cumbersome, VR content is still finding its footing, headset sales aren’t meeting forecasts and so on and so forth. Just type “Is VR a fad” into Google and you’ll see a list of links to articles featuring industry players, celebrities and recognised directors speaking out against VR.

In the face of this overwhelming information, why oh why, do I disagree with them?

THAT VR Experience

I wonder, as I write this, how many of you have actually had THAT VR experience:

You put on the headset and immediately you’re immersed in a world that makes you forget where you are. You start to look around, and while your brain is processing, you realise your whole body is feeling something; goosebumps, chills, butterflies. It tingles all over. And it blows you away. You remove the headset and you’re stunned. In awe. You can’t stop thinking about it. You want to go back to that place. That’s immersion.

If you haven’t had that then you haven’t felt the true power of VR. If you have experienced it then count the number of times a piece of content or technology has made you feel like that — you probably won’t get past one hand. I hate to sound cheesy but there’s something magical here that I can’t just ignore.

woman overwhelmed by VR
If you haven’t felt like this then you haven’t experienced VR

The Magic

As a VR content creator there’s no doubt I’m biased. To me, VR is the future of entertainment — whether it be gaming or content. The purpose of movies, of video games, of books is to transport you somewhere else — take you somewhere and help you experience something you would otherwise never see or feel.

Guys, this is what VR does.

People argue that VR will go the way of 3D technology. Millions were invested in 3D tech and sure it’s still around but who is actually using it? To me, 3D is VR 0.5. It wants to be immersive but it just never got there. The only time I personally watch 3D is when I watch an IMAX movie in 3D. In fact, that’s also the only time I ever go to the movies — to watch something in IMAX 3D. Why? Because it’s about as immersive as a movie experience can comfortably be at the moment. If you look at IMAX commercials today they are essentially promising a VR experience.

A New Medium

Let’s also not forget that VR is a whole new medium. Unlike 3D, it’s not just enhancing existing content. To truly reap the benefits you have to create content for VR, not repackage something to its specifications. It’s already opening up all sorts of creative advancements in storytelling and we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. As a VR content creator, the experience of working in this space hearkens back to the early days of cinema where there were no hard and fast rules, where everybody was essentially experimenting, just like we are. The tech is still finding itself. The content creators are still feeling out the space. This is just the beginning and nobody should expect it to be a smooth ride. It’s going to be a bumpy one and I, for one, am going to enjoy every second of it.

Abhi Kumar is Chief Creative Director at Warrior9. He believes that VR is the next step in the evolution of visual content and is currently working on the first animated sci-fi series in VR, The PhoenIX. Find out more at The PhoenIX website.

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