We can only improve the visual fidelity of our games on a two dimensional screen in front of us to a certain point before it becomes futile because our eyes can’t detect the individual pixels or frames. Clearly, developers know this and are on the lookout for the next new way that we’ll experience games. There have been a few new frontiers in immersive gaming in recent years - larger screens, motion controls, 3D technology and virtual reality.
But all of these have been tried before and none of them have yet really caught on - why should virtual reality be any different? 3D tech was supposed to become ubiquitous in the 1950s and the 1980s and is trying again right now in the 2010s , why should it manage this time, or will we see it again in the 2040s? Virtual reality had a go in the late 80s and early 90s itself - does anyone remember the Virtual Boy? If you don't, there's a good reason why not, it practically caused a global shortage of sick bags. Of course each time these technologies have another go at catching on, they have improved, but inevitably the better technology that has let them improve also keeps them expensive. Is it possible to stop this cycle?
I doubt I need to tell you how impressed testers have been with the Oculus Rift - the improvements in processing power over the last 20 years mean that the experience it can produce is far more impressive than its predecessors. There have been headaches and nausea, sure, but the same teething pains affected the people travelling faster than 20 mph for the first time on early trains and as a species we lived through that.
Best guesses for the initial cost of an Oculus Rift headset are almost as much as a current generation games console, but the waves it's been making have inspired competing developments from Sony (Project Morpheus) and Google (Cardboard) which will surely bring prices down over time. Besides, we already happily pay way more than that for a decent screen.
Maybe if just one version of virtual reality catches on the whole industry will find its place in our everyday lives, but up until now history begs to differ. If it's another tech that endlessly tries and fails to capture our imagination is it simply an expensive waste of time? After all, the really huge technologies that have successfully implanted themselves in our lives in the last century were all expected to fail.
The television would never catch on, mobile phones were far too impractical to be taken seriously, and what use could an internet possibly be when we already have libraries? Also, it might be worth noting that these technologies all basically help us communicate information better, while virtual reality helps us better isolate ourselves - could this be holding it back?
The floor is yours. Is virtual reality doomed as a fad, or is it about to reach a mold-breaking generation plateau that will change how we experience entertainment forever? There are a LOT of ways this one could go!