A Brief History of my VR Past

June 10, 2014

When I was 14, I was VR obsessed. A local restaurant/bar had brought in Dactyl Nightmare and charged $7 a pop to try it. For the 2 days it was stationed there, I played it about 4 times. On day 2 I remember calculating how much of my paper-route money I could spend to get even more plays on the machine. Dactyl Nightmare was a horrible, vomit-inducing experience, and it was so awesome.

That same year I started reading any article on VR I could get my hands on. I picked up “The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality” from the local library, and read it, not really understanding it. For our annual school public speaking competition I gave a talk on VR (and came in second place after my Grade 7 academic rival). VR had hit the public consciousness in a big way that year and I was soaking up every bit of it. And then, much like the cancellation of the show VR.5, everything went quiet and I too stopped obsessing about Virtual Reality.

At age 15 I discovered the Internet after creating a local BBS and convincing an ISP that they should comp me free Internet for advertising space on my BBS. My entire understanding of computers changed and I started collaborating with folks from around the world.

When I was 18 a friend brought over a DVD of Serial Experiments Lain. The themes of human connectedness, a shared consciousness, a manifestation of the virtual world “The Wired”, and the breaking down of barriers between the physical realm and “The Wired” have stuck with me for years.

It wasn’t until I was 21 that I read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. I was so inspired by that book that eventually I took it’s name when I had to pick my roller-derby persona at age 30. Snow Crash (#255) skated for 3 years with the Terminal City Roller Girls.

Last year I got a chance to try OculusVR’s DK1 and Crystal Cove display which completely renewed my interest in VR. I’ve mucked about with my friends as they’ve experimented with these dev kits and Unity.

This year’s Steam Dev Days had an afternoon packed with VR talks from Michael Abrash, Palmer Luckey and Joe Ludwig and I’ve since become completely re-obsessed with VR. This is technology that’s going to change the world. Maybe I’m just drinking the Kool-Aid, but I don’t care.

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