Good VR Is Not Always Going to Be High Fidelity

It would be so cool to see people’s World of Warcraft avatars over their bodies at BlizzCon. That’s, like, sci-fi though.

It’s not! Seriously, you can do that.

Really?

You just need body tracking. Let’s see… so newer iPhones have a U1 chip, which is directional. It has very targeted direction, so it knows where you are. Basically, the two things you need are body tracking, which we’ve got, and also me knowing specifically who you are, which would involve, probably, a device handshake. You could also use, like, a bracelet, any kind of electronic ID that would be fine. Or if you really want to get really boring, you could use an image market on a T-shirt.

Like a QR code?

Yeah.

I think that one of the more interesting directions AR could go in is unlocking the parts of people that are compartmentalized online. Like people’s avatars in video games, their Fortnite skins.

A hundred percent. It is interesting. I’m not going to name names, but I tried a VR experience recently that required me to have a pretty realistic avatar. I never do that when I’m in, like, Altspace or VR Chat. In VR Chat, I’m always a stick of butter with little, skinny legs because it’s so cute. But in Altspace, I have pink skin and white hair. I look kind of like a robot. [In that other experience] it kind of made me uncomfortable to look like a really boring version of myself in clothes I’d never wear in real life. I never felt so uncomfortable before in an avatar, and it got me thinking about how much people will want to express themselves or in what ways, given real options, you know?

Options are the thing. I play a lot of video games and I am also very impressed by the degree to which systems like Roblox are very immersive for people. I feel like we’ve learned so much about immersiveness, what that means, over the last five years. The extent to which people care about graphical fidelity, about motion, the accuracy of movement. What sort of lessons do you feel like you learned or what sort of assumptions do you feel were prevalent that might have been overturned?

Well, one of the things is that high fidelity is not that important. Actually, the feel is way more important than the visuals.

It’s like the debate between latency and resolution, yeah?

Yeah. But I think it goes a little bit further than that, too. Due to the fact that the headsets are so slow, there’s no way to look super photorealistic in VR, even if you wanted to. There’s no way to bridge that final little gap. Even with movies, we’re only just barely getting there. With that being said, often, when a VR experience is trying to look ultra-realistic, it feels the most uncomfortable and oppressive to me. I’m like, at least take the roof off, have a dolphin in the background or something. Why do I have to have a roof in VR? It ends up being a lot more about whether mechanics of the world are fun. And I think that’s where Roblox is really interesting. Roblox has mechanics and then people make games on top of that. So it kind of changes depending on the game within Roblox. Minecraft is like that, too. It’s got really tightly constrained rules and people will spend a million hours in Minecraft, literally. That’s as low fidelity as you can get. And yet I would argue it’s incredibly immersive, too.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired https://www.wired.com/story/timoni-west-unity-vr-ar-interview