According to developer Dave Ranyard of Sony’s Virtual Reality Project Morpheus, “Skepticism over new technology is part of a cycle that kicks off when a new method of interacting with entertainment is brought about.” But in the case of immersion, it’s not simply a new technique like adding sound, color, widescreen, Dolby stereo or 3D. Immersion is an entirely new medium. We can hardly expect Hollywood to embrace a technology that places the viewer into a movie, rather than watching through a flat screen or ‘window’ as a passive observer. Simply put, immersion is a game changer, meaning it is indeed a disruptive technology. There. We said it. Now, is this a good or bad thing?
Depends on which side of the entertainment industry you’re on. If you’re a part of the old school Hollywood establishment, you’re ‘comfort zone’ won’t likely extend into an entirely new means of storytelling. Traditionally, any new technologies even remotely perceived as a threat to the status quo in a stagnating movie industry, inevitably comes under attack.
Case in point, Ranyard offered a quote from Mary Pickford, one of the founders of United Artists during the era of silent film, using it as an example of the habitual nature of short-sightedness in our culture.
“Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.”
As most informed, enlightened pioneers in virtual reality know, we’re in the very early stages of a movement that will take decades to perfect, but the end result staggers the imagination. It’s entirely possible that our new century may someday be best defined by its advances in this new exciting new medium of immersion.