22 January 2008

Virtual Reality – Step Into This Giant Hamster Wheel, the Future Awaits...

As a child I was rather fond of a good computer game. To be honest I really don’t see it as greatly disconnected from reading a book. Indeed in some ways I see it as potentially freer as plotlines can be more malleable. Having said that its important to realist that books leave more to the imagination and probably in that sense use creativity more than computer games. Even so I think in essence both are quite similar. Of course with the stress of my final years of school I sort of phased out of computer games and nowadays I don’t play them at all.

Thus as a child I was never particularly fit, such is to be expected of one who does little exercise. However I always liked the idea of virtual reality for computer games as it would allow one to experience another world and not just mentally imagine it or visually see it but also interact with it. Jump, climb, run and fight within a 3D environment, ohh what fun it would be, and how damn fit you’d get! Getting fit and doing regular exercise helps the body in a myriad of ways: “The Many Benefits of Exericse, Part 1:” Think about it, fitness would become integral to a games plot line. If you weren’t fit it would be that much harder to play the game, in turn encouraging you to get fitter as you played more. Getting better at a game would not only involve understanding how it works and having good finger reflexes but also a good level of fitness, all of which could be developed by running around in a giant hamster wheel, well, essentially anyway.

Yes, the giant hamster wheel is for real. I found it at good old Science Daily. Here is the link I’m primarily drawing off for those of you who enjoy further research: http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2006/0409-the_new_virtual_reality.htm

Essentially what has been developed is like a mouse’s running wheel except much larger, big enough for humans that is, and instead of being circular being spherical. Of course the technology is still primitive in how it reacts with the computers I’m sure but, its still an impressive feat to invent this wheel which turns on the spot allowing you to run in any direction. It is also said that it allows you to jump, although I’m still not quite sure how. There are still flaws this is obvious, but it’s a damn good start and its happened far sooner than I would ever have anticipated.

Virtual reality has an absolutely huge amount of potential, just imagine the possibilities for a second. They mention education and training for emergency services such as firemen as well as of course computer games. Computer games could become a way of not only zoning out to have some fun (much like reading a book, watching a movie or playing a contemporary computer game) except with the added benefit of moving the body around and the extra sensation of actually being there.

I’ve certainly always been attracted to the idea of getting and staying fit and healthy through something I consider as engaging and fun as a good computer game. Admittedly certain games I’d enjoy such as many strategy games wouldn’t benefit from this technology, however there are still a large amount of games that could. In a sense I suppose the Wii is the precursor to movement based games, and there was even some guy on the internet who blogged about his weight loss adventure using the Wii as a form of exercise. (“Wii Sports: Lose Weight With Wii Sports”) Personally I don’t think the Wii really cuts much of a workout and I think that running around and jumping and slaying barbarians or whatever it is your doing in some adventure game would be far more physically beneficial than the Wii. Whats more it would be a very entertaining form of exercise, and could literally phase out most conventional exercise! Fitness would as I said before become integral to gameplay, just like how fitter people perform better at various sports (and obviously people who have trained more and developed other skills more) Most young people love computer games and I’m sure that if and when this technology becomes widely available (when I cannot say but I’d guess within say 10 years or less) that most young people will become far fitter than they would otherwise be.

Of course virtual reality isn’t really a substitute for real life and all the great things that we get from simply going outdoors. It would be imperative that people still got time outdoors for many benefits from vitamin D from the sun to simply psychologically connecting with our environment. Indeed the whole virtual reality idea while appealing in many ways is also rather scary, as the thought of a generation of people who have no need to leave home what so ever scares me. Although I suppose in many ways were half way there. But with virtual reality on such a level people could literally lose touch with the real reality. I can imagine people interacting socially through the internet with virtual reality, and conducting business virtually and maybe even going to work virtually… it would be like the matrix all over again!

Still as usual it’s not the technology that is at fault. The technology is simply knowledge neither good nor evil in itself. Rather, its how that knowledge is applied that will determine whether it is good or bad. Personally I’m inclined to think that it will bring many positive changes, and hopefully the negative changes can be kept to a minimum. So what are you waiting for (other than the technology of course)? Simply step into this giant hamster wheel, the future awaits...


jess said...

I'm sorry Sam, but I have to say I prefer the old fashioned way of having fun. ^_^ My sister and I read constantly as children, interspersed with us playing "make believe" (often based on books) around our farm. Great stuff. We never did sport as children and I guess are not super fit, but I'd say the reason we are as healthy as we are now is because of our crazy adventures in the virtual reality of nature and our imaginations combined. ^_^

See you in global.

Total Wellbeing said...

...And the logical extension of that would surely be to turn your "crazy adventures in the "virtual reality of nautre and [y]our imaginations combined" and place it into a virtual reality you could run around in and enjoy...Think about it for a minute. Take your precious Narnia {you christian you :P} or whatever story it is that currently fascinates you, and turn it into a 3d world. Suddenly such freedom as can be afforded is yours... none of this do what the narrator says bullshit, nope, its all free-choice from here forth.

In all honesty it depends on the book etc etc. And the fact that most movies are far worse than the books does not bode well for the idea at large... By the way a bunch of new resources are saying that computer games stimulate creativity...i was most amused... they also foud that unhappy people are the most creative! Probably a coping mecahinsm to difficult times.

jess said...

point understood, but i honestly feel i have the equal, if not greater, capabilities you describe in my own mind. i have a pretty awesome imagination which i can use to delve in and transform worlds which intrigue me. ^_^ don't think virtual reality will really ever be able to compete with that. not wanting to sound arrogant or anything. haha. ^_^

oh god...that's so true. and considering what most games look like, i think i'd be highly unimpressed with the result. i'm very picky like that. ^_^

interesting that you say computer games stimulate creativity... i'm afraid i fail to see that when my brother plays halo, which seems like the most pointless game in the world. sigh. but i suppose there may well be other games more stimulating to the imagination. and as for unhappy people - probably explains a lot of those manically depressed artists! for my part, i'd sacrifice a bit of creativity for some happiness any day. ^_^

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