Oh virtual reality, where art thou?


In the mid-90’s, when I was 15-16 years, I remember virtual reality being all the hype. People put on huge VR-glasses that made them look like robots. Some had VR-suits for VR-sex. Woo-hoo. Jamiroquai even had a hit single called Virtual Insanity. I was caught by the buzz, since I wanted to put on VR-glasses and step into another world, say, Oslo as it looked 1000 years ago, with forests where I live now, and small huts where the harbour is today.

What happened? Nothing. It all fizzled away. Guess everybody understood that these huge glasses looked kinda corny, and that virtual sex was a bit, um, stupid.

Anyway, we already had computer games, and they’ve been virtual worlds ever since Space Invaders let you fight a battle on an unknown planet. And it’s they that have led the development of more and more advanced computer graphics, creating virtual versions of ancient Rome, modern day Los Angeles, et cetera.

Slowly, the academic world is catching up, understanding that this technology can be used not only for shoot’em up or sword battles (okay, I know there are other, less violent games as well), but also for making history come alive.

Like the Rome Reborn project from the University of Virginia, or the Reconstruction of historical Palestine by UMB in Norway and Birzeit University in Palestine.

But even though these might be good, and even if computer games might be fun and well crafted; what they lack is the social aspect of Second Life that makes you meet “real” people inside this virtual reality. Rome and Palestine reborn doesn’t give you anything more than what you can get from drawings in a book, albeit in a more advanced and overwhelming form.

So here’s to Second Life, hoping we’ll see more historical reconstructions in there.


~ by theresecarfagno on October 23, 2007.

5 Responses to “Oh virtual reality, where art thou?”

  1. Yes, people are the most important part of one virtual place. But, as we usually see in second life, historical sims are empty or populated with non-historical residents, tourists like ourselves. After building and making clothes, attachments and accessories, creator have to think about “actors”, the people wdo will populate the sim, but who will capable of bringing the specific way of life, activities, talk etc. That might cost a lot.

  2. I agree, Dandellion. It’s the same pattern that often occurred when we were kids: Building things for our dolls was fun, but when the building was over, we sometimes didn’t really care to play that much with it. More fun to build something else. Guess I would’ve felt the same if I built something in Second Life too.

    But I still feel that SL is superior to “dead and empty” sims like Rome Reborn, as SL has at least the potential to be filled with life. Maybe computer games are better, or online games, since they always will be filled with characters? I’ve read about WoW people who can’t see the big thing with SL …

  3. Fear not friends….
    The future is arriving.
    Just not as fast as you would like.

    In SL, I’m VirtualSexMachine Pro

  4. All sorts of people seem to read my blog …

  5. Come visit ‘the 1920s berlin project’, we have a historical sim with a community of people living there.

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