I was about to start interviewing someone in the Dubai market a month or two ago, for our big Middle East Special Issues (March and April, 2017) and he started with: “If you are going to ask me about virtual reality I will scream!” I therefore got the impression that he was a trifle weary of the subject.
He should be. He was one of the principals in a big chain of family entertainment centres, rich and ripe territory for the VR brigade. And there are plenty of them. I counted a dozen proponents of the “new” art at the IAAPA show in Orlando last November. The big question, of course, is will VR last this time or will it be another passing fad?
I won’t incur the wrath of my advertising manager by declaring for the latter, but I am not certain that it is a passing fad anyway. I am perhaps a little biased because I remember all the razzamatazz 10 years ago (or even longer?) when it was going to “revolutionise the industry”. It didn’t. It flopped.
This time, I am knowingly rebuked by the said proponents, it works properly. Those early experiments failed because the technology wasn’t right and the industry wasn’t ripe and ready. Now, the technology is transformed; the industry desperate and gagging for something “new”.
I am still not certain. It doesn’t look that much different from those early days; it still has the scuba-diver mask that conjures up distasteful images of someone else’s bodily fluids and germs (I know, I know - there are “wipes” and other sanitising processes now) and my one try at it left me feeling giddy and disoriented.
That latter negativity could be (probably should be) put down to being 73 and in God’s waiting room.
Let the youngsters be the judge. If they like it, then it will do a bomb and put footfall into FECs and cash on the bottom line. The initial “takes” from all accounts suggest that it will do that. Let’s see.