In my prior article on In Death I wrote about the immersive nature of the VR game and how many VR games can actually be dangerous due to how immersive they are. After talking in class the last few weeks about different immersive media throughout history I thought it would be helpful to re-examine the immersive nature of In Death to see how such a young game connects to the broader history of immersive gaming. I felt this was important because these connections could give us clues into the direction VR is headed and the dangers possibly inherent in this direction.
In Death has technically not been released yet (as of writing it is in early access testing) but upon release it will become part of a rather short history of VR. The first VR goggles were actually sold in 1983 by Jaron Lanier, a man who is the supposed popularizer of the term “virtual reality”. However, the first commercially available VR headset was much later in 2014 with the Oculus Rift. Only a year after the goggles were released came William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer where the idea of a singularity between humans and computers became popularized as well. This supposed singularity would entail the merging of computer intelligence with a human consciousness to pass virtual reality and achieve a full virtual existence.
The future of a singularity has been the goal that many leaders of technology, including Google founder Sergey Brin, envision that we will reach through our developing virtual reality media. The problem with the “singularity” being the goal for heads of technology is that for technology to cross the physical hurdles that stand between us and a singularity, there will have to be many failed experiments and things that will have unforeseen consequences. In Death and other current games have been shown to cause sickness and even lead to death in players while still being relatively early iterations of commercial VR gaming. There are many risks along the road to a singularity and games like In Death provide examples of both the awesome and dangerous nature of immersion and VR.