Virtual Reality – Where will it end?

Okay, I’m still on the subject of Virtual Reality. In our newspaper, the venerable San Jose Mercury News, there’s a big article on the Business page, right up front: “Rent-a-Reality”. (I found the article here, but not yet on the SJMerc’s own page.) The story is about how some amusement parks have combined their rides with virtual reality goggles, to put the physical sensations of roller coasters and the like into a new world of attacking monsters and such.

In concluding the section on Six Flags’ coaster ride, the author, Ryan Nakashima, writes: “Pro tip: go around twice, once with the header on and once without…”

Yeah, I can imagine how captivating the VR experience might be!

But the article goes on with examples of fans being teased by a VR image of their heartthrob, all for $18; and one of shooting at ghosts at the wax museum in New York, for $55.

James Brooks, of the Associated Press, writes of the London experience that “Museum officials say they aren’t worried these experiences might one day replace traditional museums.”

Well, let’s see. Children today are spending more and more time in front of screens of one sort or another. Once VR goggles come down in price and the software and networking challenges are solved (all of which is inevitable), what will hold children of all ages back from spending more and more time wearing goggles, and living in imaginary settings?

How about put on some real goggles and go swimming with your friends? Or run around in the back yard, getting sweaty and stinky for real? Or go climb a real mountain and experience the real thrill of heights and depths of Nature’s creations?

I guess once we perfect virtual reality experiences, we won’t need real wild animals or real national parks or real mountains to climb.

But then maybe it won’t matter because – as Stephen Hawking recommended this week – we ought to be planning to leave the planet anyway.

Pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Thank you, Joni.