Oculus Rift in Second Life

Oculus Rift People

One of our SL residents posted on the Oculus Rift forum about Second Life. There are a number of people commenting there that have no idea what they are talking about in regard to Second Life. But, that is not unusual.

What is interesting is a business or two has commented on how they have used SL to increase their sales by improving customer service via and SL project. They are interested in Oculus/SL.

Also, there are some on the forum pointing out the amazing aspects of SL. (VirtualKarl) This is one of the more balanced and apparently informed takes on SL. I read it as being objective and feel it expresses an object view of SL.

There is a comment in a later post about the Lab not knowing how to market Second Life. That is debatable on so many levels. But, there is no way to win any position in the debate. I think the problem is less in marketing skill and more a cultural problem. Consider.

The Lab has hired some heavy weight marketing people. It didn’t seem to help much. So, it is not a lack of marketing skill, at least in my opinion. I think the problem is more a cultural problem.

For an analogy, my dad could not understand the idea of information technology or how anyone would ever make money from it. When I was old enough to really understand what he was saying and thinking I explained it in one word: Google. That clicked for him.

He and even many of my contemporaries have no idea what a virtual world is. They understand 3D games, but not virtual worlds. One of what I consider the most realistic portrayals of a virtual world is in the TV series Caprica. (Available on Netflix, I loved the series – 2010 – YouTube Trailer, not that good) I think this portrayal is likely the most probable near term VW/VR experience in our future. They use a sort of neural connection Oculus Rift. The story is about transferring a ‘soul’ into a computer (the creation of the Cylons), which is pretty far out there and that is not what I am talking about being likely. But, the use of VR/VW by characters as portrayed in the story is becoming likely. Yes, lots of sex and games, entertainment, and typical human behavior.

Caprica Poster - From SyFy Channel

Caprica Poster – From SyFy Channel 2010

The Bruce Willis movie Surrogates goes farther than Caprica and is set in the near future. But, I think it is likely further out into our future, provided we can convince North Korea and Iran not to use nukes, than the Caprica portrayal. (Surrogates Trailer) But, it adds aspects to the VR/VW model that few have thought of.

Consider. We currently do more and more of our everyday life via ‘virtual’ connections. How much business do we do by phone with people we have never met? How many things do we buy by comparison shopping on the net?

Brick and mortar stores are still popular because we try on clothes, touch and play with products, and get our senses on the items to make a better decision about whether we like them. Web developers are aware of the human desire to want to touch a product. We do all sorts of things to try and get people as much realistic visual information as we can about a product. Oculus Rift in a VW is going to extend VR/VW to a level we have not seen before. It WILL help Internet sales by opening new possibilities.

So, just as air travel developed and progressed as metals were developed, our knowledge about metal fatigue grew, electronics advanced so, too the VW is developing as technology moves forward. If you think that Linden Lab is a software company developing just virtual worlds and creative spaces, think again. Think of the network needed by a world of surrogates/avatars, 7 billion plus. Imagine all the hardware, software, and networking we need to develop.

But, how many people understand what a Virtual World is or even Virtual Reality? Just as my dad could not imagine how information technology would work and could not see a book as a primitive form of technology, primitive by my standards, my contemporizes and ancestors have trouble comprehending VW’s and how they may be used.

Drax’s World Builder series is a way to bring that information to people. But, we are in the early stages of these concepts. They are not in society’s consciousness. As an example of what this means, try selling bure ngono. (Hint: Swahili) Before you look it up, ask yourself if you would buy it? How much you would pay for it? Whether you would by it as a gift? Is there a job in the field you could do? Are you really interested in it? Does it grab your attention? Probably not.

Once you know what it is, it is easy to answer those questions. But, image if there were no concept to define ngono? Consider how the story of Caprica is based on the idea of moving a soul, a personality, a consciousness into a machine. Were the Cylons alive, self-aware? We humans currently have a challenge with that. Star Trek first portrayed the idea with their transporters. The idea of disassembling a human body and reassembling somewhere else is sort of killing one body and building another. The Christian concept of resurrection presents a similar challenge. Would that new body and consciousness really be me?

Things without a model we can relate to in the societal consciousness are a problem. I think the biggest problem marketing selling Second Life is a lack of understanding what a virtual reality or world is or might be and how we might use it.

So, while the Oculus Rift is a baby step heading toward a Caprica-like-VW, we are on our way. And the Oculus Rift is hot…

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