by Charlie Gallagher
I began trying to understand virtual reality (VR) by looking at its early history. This clarified how VR came to be; however, it left me with more questions than when I started. Chief among them was how to define VR. For this, I turned to the Crerar library and eventually to reading a large portion of the textbook Understanding Virtual Reality, by William Sherman and Alan Craig. While it was an excellent text, it was very vague in defining virtual reality. This led me to investigate how VR works. I began to understand virtual reality as a give and take between the many types of inputs fed to a VR system and their corresponding outputs. While my understanding increased, I was not much closer to a working definition. My goal with this blog is to trace out a brief history of VR to supplement my power-point (link at the end).
I fell behind on 2018 games thanks to my “Let’s Study Horror Games” series. Things kind of worked out in the end, though, because 2018 ended up being not quite as supersaturated with games as 2017. To be sure, it was a year of big releases, both on the mainstream AAA front and on the indie front. But it didn’t have the sheer firehose volume of 2017.
Since my mid-year post handled January through June, I was originally intending this post to mostly cover games that came out from July 1st onward. It turned out there were plenty of stragglers I missed in the previous post, so that organizational scheme ended up going out the window. A jumble of things below the jump.
In the past 12 months, three full-motion video adventure games were released. The big tech companies are in the midst of a full-on push to get us to strap VR headsets to our face. And Hidden Agenda (Supermassive Games, 2017), specially crafted to highlight Sony’s brand new PlayLink system, looks for all the world like an evolutionary outgrowth of I’m Your Man (Bob Bejan, 1992), Loews’ experiment in audience-polling interactive cinema.
To quote a 1990s-era television series that itself returned in 2017: What year is it? Because it certainly seems that the game industry is partying like it’s 1993. At this rate, it’s astonishing that we haven’t seen the release of a “3DO Classic” console to accompany the SNES Classic Edition.
I have been observing this trend more than I have been directly participating in it.(Despite positioning myself as a scholar specializing on the intersection of cinema and videogames, I haven’t yet gotten a group together to play Hidden Agenda, and I’ve fallen behind on the stead stream of FMV games.) Still, though, the trend has been noteworthy enough to comment upon as the year wraps up. Below the fold you’ll find two capsule reviews of things that piqued my interest.