Games Will Make Reality ObsoleteFiled under Things People Don't Realize
One of my favorite feelings in life, not including Percoset-induced feelings, is when you realize that something is destined for obsolescence. Do you know what I mean? Like when you have a split-second glimpse far into the future, and can see clearly that the thing you’re interacting with right now will not exist in 30 years, that this everyday experience will one day seem comically bizarre.
I should give that feeling a name, before Thomas Friedman does. That’s a very lucrative industry you know, making up names for broad concepts that everyone else is already aware of. Um. Hmm. Alright, how about we call it…”The Shining.” Yes, that’ll do pig, that’ll do.
Maybe it would help if I gave you an example of “The Shining.” Alright, well, I got “The Shining” yesterday when I paid for something in cash. How does cash still exist? The fact that we’re all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets, capable of instantly connecting us with all information ever recorded, and yet we’re still conducting transactions with little green pieces of paper is fucking mind-blowing.
Anyway, I’ve always cherished those prophetic “Shining” moments. They were a rare occurrence --- until recently, when I finished playing Grand Theft Auto V. Now I sense obsolescence every minute of every day. You see, dear reader, I’m pretty sure games are going to make reality obsolete.
I thought maybe I was crazy, until two weeks ago, when Mark Zuckeberg bought Oculus, a virtual reality headset, for $2,000,000,000. Now I think I’m a genius.
To understand why Mark and I are such visionaries, you have to realize a few things. First, you have to realize that entertainment technology is clearly evolving in the direction of realism. Whether it’s 3D films, HD displays, or Xbox Kinects, electronics companies are succeeding in their noble quest to make the non-real world every bit as immersive as the real one.
Obviously there are some major neuroscientific hurdles in the way, but it’s not too difficult to imagine a future in which virtual experiences will involve all five senses, when you can see, feel, touch, smell, and taste an artificial Shake Shack burger (without feeling sick for several weeks afterwards!).
Ok, so let’s assume the technology arrives and we can all plug into The Matrix --- will people really want to do this? Yes. Definitely. You’ve gotta keep in mind that the real world is a really shitty place for most people. 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day. Over a billion people on Earth don’t have access to clean water. 10% of Americans are depressed, and that doesn’t include all the Americans that would be depressed if they were self-aware (eg: people who live in Los Angeles). It won’t take much marketing to convince these poor souls to opt-out of the dismal rat race we call existence.
But virtual reality won’t just appeal to the miserable masses. Even humans with relatively luxurious lives will be wooed into fantasyland. Just imagine if at the end of every workday you could take a mental vacation to Bora Bora, and play beer pong against Winston Churchill with 180-year-old Macallans, while a dozen Chinchillas rolled around playfully on your back. Think you’ll still want to go home and peruse Facebook while your girlfriend watches Law & Order? Please.
Now social commentators might issue some objections here. Escapism has a bad reputation. Perhaps inhabiting an inconsequential dream world will usher in the collapse of civilization --- we’ll tune out while the oceans boil over, too busy hang-gliding through the Himalayas to invent cures for all that ails us. Valid concerns, but here’s what I’m saying: it’s going be so awesome.
Just imagine the full force of human creativity let loose on an infinite world, a place in which any artistic impulse can be satisfied at a whim on the grandest scale, a universe that is actually intelligently designed. Just look at the kind of shit people are doing in Minecraft!
Now imagine that, on steroids. All forms of entertainment --- books, movies, mancala --- will be subsumed by The Game. The global entertainment industry is projected to rack in $3 Trillion annually by 2016. Once Oculus starts pocketing the majority of those profits, Mark and I are going to be obscenely wealthy (note: I invented Oculus, and I’m married to Mark Zuckerberg).
Are you ready, Player One?!