On Monday, July 1, I wrote up an article about Electronic Arts’ CEO Peter Moore referring to virtual reality devices as having a “dork factor,” and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bemused as to why someone would refer to something that’s (technologically) a leap forward in gaming as something that’s “dorky” in this day and age.
"It's an incredibly immersive experience, but it's you," Moore said in a recent interview. "You're inside this world and you're oblivious and of course, you can't see. You hope it doesn't get what I'll call the Segway effect: incredible technology that kinda looks dorky. Or the Google Glass effect, which is the dork factor that goes with that. And that's what we have to overcome, because I think the tech is great. These things done right, commercialized so they can be truly a consumer device with plenty of innovative content to go with it, feel like a blast."
I can only think that what Moore was talking about was that players may feel embarrassed about wearing either Oculus VR’s Oculus Rift or Sony’s Project Morpheus, because it’s a device that may look kind of odd when scene in a public or private scenario, like seeing someone ride a Segway down the street, or seeing someone chatting on a bluetooth headset while commuting, or someone yelling voice commands at the Xbox One; it’s just something you don’t normally see, and therefore construed it as something that’s uncanny to the norm.
Of course, that could just be me projecting, but let’s explore this issue a little further. There will always come a time when something new, flashy and innovative comes into our lives, and sometimes said something that’s new and flashy turns out to be too new and flashy when put into practice.
For example, the idea of wearing Google Glass seems like a pretty awesome idea in theory, but when put into practice it may put some users into a state of embarrassment because said device is so unorthodox in a public setting, despite it being a well camouflaged device.
It’s the same reaction I had with Xbox One’s voice commands, which sounded really cool, but when I thought about it in a practical sense I was put off it, because I was put off by the idea of announcing commands to a console. Granted it would be in the comfort of my own home should I actually have an Xbox One, but I would still have to get over the initial hurdle of feeling absolutely silly for talking to an inanimate object and wanting it to do something.
While I would consider it natural to be embarrassed about something like that, I really don’t think one should have to worry about the “dork factor” of anything if they’re really for it, like wearing Google Glass or riding a Segway to work.
Sure, there’ll be the initial embarrassment, but then you get used to it, like how no doubt I’ll be used to using / hearing voice commands when I grow more accustomed to it. I’m also applying this to myself so as to not be hampered down by embarrassment for wanting to experience something pretty damn cool, like trying out the Oculus Rift.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed because it’s your escapism and your way of comforting yourself or making your life easier. Having said that, I get that people just embarrass easy, or turn away from something that they feel would embarrass them, and I cannot fault them for that--it’s a difficult thing to get over, especially if you’ve experienced it for most of your life. So, in the end, just do what’s comfortable for you!
In either case, I get why people would be put off by the “dork factor” of virtual reality headsets, as it’s a fairly recent thing that’s become incredibly popular thanks to its revival, and it is a fairly flashy and innovative thing in and of itself.
The prejudice behind anything “dorky” is slowly becoming irrelevant as things that are considered such are being steadily assimilated into our lives, and while it’s natural to feel a little silly when trying something new that’s a little unorthodox, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about anything that you voluntarily want to try out for yourself, whether it makes you feel comfortable, happy or just makes your life easier or bearable.
So, don’t feel embarrassed about trying out a virtual reality headset if it’s something you really wanna try out, and if you don’t want to then no biggie! Virtual reality is shaping up to be the next big thing in videogaming, and it’s certainly something to try out when given the chance (only if you want to though).