Every generation witnesses leaps in evolution when it comes to entertainment. What once
required people to leave their homes has now moved into their homes. No longer does the family have to leave their house to go to the town theatre. In today’s society people play games on their phones. They play them in class, in the car, waiting in line, at the doctors office. It begs the question of what is next. The answer is the fourth wall. The barrier of reality that separates the physical person from the game itself.
Crossing this barrier is known as virtual reality, and the human race has a fascination with it. The idea of crossing the fourth wall, and becoming part of the game is often portrayed in some of our favorite movies. Hollywood blockbusters such as The Matrix, Inception, Total Recall and Tron sold the idea to audiences and they loved it.
Even most RPG’s and first person shooters have tried to capitalize on the virtual reality idea and feel. Early first person shooters have been traced back as far as Maze War in 1973. The goal of first person shooters is to make you feel like you are in the world holding the gun. Taking you from the couch, into the computer screen and away from your real life. MMORPG’s like Everquest tried capturing this a different way, by letting you create an avatar in a 3D world. People would neglect their real life responsibilities for their game world responsibilities. However, games are about to change again.
According to an article on IBM.com most of the top ten technology companies are investing large amounts of money in virtual reality technology. With so many companies investing in the technology required to perfect virtual reality, the current generation is guaranteed to witness the next evolutionary leap in gaming. Before you start perfecting your post fourth wall gaming rolls, there are some major issues that need to be worked out.
Along with the potential for epic gaming on the other side of the fourth wall, is the potential for lots of lawsuits and privacy violations. Perry Clegg, a Trademark Attorney, states, “the VR world is quickly becoming a hotbed of intellectual property disputes. Brand owners should be sure to docket VR platforms and VR-related domains as part of their regular policing schedules.”
The use of virtual reality in gaming has the potential to cross into all types of intellectual property law. The virtual reality tech may fall under the patent, the software and code or stories could be protected by a copyright and the game could be a trademark issue. With so many different types of infringement possible, the technology could be tied up in court for years after before we get to experience it in our own homes.
The other consideration is the privacy rights. Oculus Rift a current VR product on the market is able to gather uniquely personal information on its users. Facebook who currently owns Oculus Rifts doesn’t have the most stellar track record for protecting their clients privacy. Oculus Rift can record information such as hand, and eye movements, whether you are sitting or standing, and can send info to Facebook even when you aren’t wearing it. Unless extreme security measures are put into place, this may be another area were government regulation or lawsuits arise delaying the practicality of VR.
With only one company, Oculus Rift, putting out VR technology for home use, your options are going to be limited. Many people will choose not to invest in VR, until the prices come down, or privacy concerns are cleared up. Now that heavy hitters like Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and Apple are starting to invest in VR technology, its only a matter of time, before we have options. The competition these companies will provide will most likely mean the end of our current generations of games and a new world on the other side of the fourth wall. This is our generation’s evolutionary leap.