The technology behind VR, also known as virtual reality, apparently remains in its infancy. Despite this fact, I couldn’t help but notice the popularity of the Oculus Rift. It appears as a possible contender for the next big holiday gift, but how can technology like this help the world? Is it fun? Is now the time to go out and buy a VR headset?

We have the answer to those questions right here in this podcast!

ComicsVerse edited the following transcript for clarity.

Justin Alba: I’m coming to you from the front lines of toxic masculinity, also known as the gaming section here at ComicsVerse. As always, I’m Justin Alba, ComicsVerse CEO. I’m hosting this podcast, but today we’re not talking about comics. We’re talking about games. What is today? It’s game day! It’s VR day! OK, it’s really not, I just made that up, but maybe in 20 years, it will be?

Justin Alba: With me today from the comics section is Matt Attanasio. Hi, Matt. How’s it going?

Matt Attanasio: Hey. What’s going on?

Justin Alba: Also from the gaming section is Spencer Rehfield. This is his first podcast at ComicsVerse. I’m excited to have him here. Spencer, thank you so much for doing this podcast for the first time with us!

Spencer Rehfield: Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.

Justin Alba: Andrew is here from the gaming section. This is his first podcast as well. Andrew, thank you so much for doing this today.

Andrew Kreiss: Oh, thank you for having me. It feels cool to be on a podcast. I’ve been doing some filming today, and it’s kind of nice to just have my voice on here for once.

Justin Alba: We’re talking about virtual reality. You guys are gamers. I’m not a gamer. Where is virtual reality at right now? Should I go out and should I buy an Oculus Rift?

Shot of two young men testing virtual reality glasses in office. Businessman wearing VR goggles and colleague writing notes.
Shot of two young men testing virtual reality glasses in office. Businessman wearing VR goggles and colleague writing notes.

Andrew Kreiss: We’ve come a long way from where it used to be. I remember when I was a kid at Six Flags Great Adventure…for those of you who don’t live in New Jersey, that’s a fun theme park that might kill you at some point.

Matt Attanasio: It wasn’t that bad.

Andrew Kreiss: Oh all right, it might not. But they had some VR stuff there. I remember, as the Star Wars freak I am, one of the VR worlds you could do some … You know, it was like a Luke fight Vader thing. It was probably some third party kind of trashy licensing thing. However, it was interesting. They put you on a little treadmill with some blocky 64-bit graphics. The stuff we have today is a lot better than that. We’ve come a long way from mall kiosk gimmicks.

Spencer Rehfield: I agree with that. It’s come a long way. Back when I was younger, I’d go to an arcade. I’d just put on some dinky little helmet, and it wouldn’t feel very immersive at all. I recently used the Oculus Rift. I had it on. There was a fan blowing on me. I was on a roller coaster, so I was like, “Oh, shit, I’m actually blowing.” Like, the wind is on me. Then I thought “I’m a believer” after that. I tried the Vive, and it’s come a long way, but it’s not at the point where it will replace a console for me. It’s not something I’d want to do regularly.

Justin Alba: I have a question. What about that was virtual? Because you had a fan on you? Isn’t that like really wind?

Spencer Rehfield: Well, it was wind, but my view was virtual. Like, I wasn’t actually on a roller coaster. I was looking at a track.

Justin Alba: OK. And the wind made you feel like you were really on it?

Spencer Rehfield: Yeah.

Matt Attanasio: That’s pretty cool.

Matt Attanasio: I’m not going nuts for VR until they pull out the stops and do READY PLAYER ONE type stuff. I have never used a VR device … Actually, that’s a lie.

Andrew Kreiss: I don’t know if I like where this is going. I’m not going to lie.

Matt Attanasio: So, there is such a thing as VR porn, and my friend was trying … I promise, friend, not me. No one’s going to believe that.

Justin Alba: You know what? Admit it. It was you!

Matt Attanasio: No, it was not!

Justin Alba: You’re afraid to admit it was you?

Andrew Kreiss: His friend. I’m making air quotes with my hands right now.

Matt Attanasio: But yeah, he brought that down to us, it was like, “Yo, guys, try this on!” And I’m like, “No.”

Andrew Kreiss: Just some dudes looking at porn together. Totally normal. We’ve all been there.

Justin Alba: I think it’s time to segue. That being said, should I buy my nephew a VR Oculus this Christmas?

Spencer Rehfield: I think it depends. If he has a gaming PC, there’s definitely more support. Like PlayStation has the PlayStation VR right now. There are not as many options for VR applications on the PC. There are indie games. Like, people have probably even made mod support for existing games for VR. So, there’s more accessibility with the PC. I’d say in that case, it is more worth it. But it also all depends. If he doesn’t seem interested in VR, then I wouldn’t get it. It’s not like a must-buy right now, I would say.

Andrew Kreiss: Plus it’s expensive, and it’s not that good. There’s a job simulator game that’s really intuitive and remarkably silly. Of course, there’s the VR chat game, where you can be the Ugandan knuckles.

Spencer Rehfield: Oh, God.

Andrew Kreiss: VR Chat? I don’t know how to describe it. It’s basically like … Think Second Life almost, where you’ve got your avatar and you go to all these different maps, and you just run around. You can do voice chat, text chat, and you can download different avatars to display yourself. And you just hang out, and it’s all … It’s virtual reality!

Matt Attanasio: There was actually. Maybe not a news story but something relatively newsworthy about that VR chat. I’ve forgotten when. A couple of months ago, this year, a player had a seizure.

Andrew Kreiss: Oh, of course.

Andrew Kreiss: It’s the beams right in your face. That’s the thing they need to be careful with is the whole thing is right in your face.

Justin Alba: But is VR the slippery slope that Hollywood makes it out to be? I just want you to know that my Amazon Alexa, once she becomes sentient, will make me the first thing she kills.

Andrew Kreiss: Well, that’s AI. That’s not VR. AI is different.

Justin Alba: I don’t know what the difference is.

Andrew Kreiss: Well VR, that’s like gaming. That’s for us. AI, that’s artificial intelligence. That’s completely different.

Andrew Kreiss: it’s supposed to be for us, but if it grows too intelligent, then it will be for itself, and it will kill.

Justin Alba: But I assume there’ll be a grace period. Like maybe 100 years or so?

Andrew Kreiss: I don’t know!

Justin Alba: We’re getting there already.

Andrew Kreiss: We’re not talking about AI. We’re here to talk about VR, Justin! God!

READY PLAYER ONE Is a movie that relied heavily on virtual reality aka VR.

Justin Alba: Sorry, you’re right but you know, I’m learning a lot. Number one, AR is not VR!

Andrew Kreiss: No, AI is not VR.

Justin Alba: Number two…

Justin Alba: AI is not VR. I learned that.

Andrew Kreiss: Augmented Reality.

Justin Alba: It’s probably too early to go out and buy VR unless you’re an early adopter?

Andrew Kreiss: Oh, definitely.

Matt Attanasio: Definitely.

Andrew Kreiss: If you’ve got the money for it, give it a shot. You could find some enjoyment out of it. But if you’re not trying to go out of your way to spend what, like, two, three hundred bucks for the headset, then no, don’t do it.

Spencer Rehfield: Yeah, it’s not worth it yet.

Andrew Kreiss: Get a console, upgrade your PC, stick to that for now.

Justin Alba: So you guys are all big gamers. When do you expect VR to be ready?

Andrew Kreiss: At least five more years.

Spencer Rehfield: Yeah, it will be a while.

Andrew Kreiss: I mean, the hardest part though, especially with gaming, a lot of the newer technology ends up being a gimmick. I mean, I used the Wii before as an example, and I still love you, Nintendo, but no one wants … When I’m playing video games, I don’t want to be standing up and running around my room. Usually, I come back, I’m like, “All right, let me boot up something.” Yeah, first-person shooters can be stressful, but I’m running around my house, you know, swinging a golf club or trying to shoot invisible people. I’m plopped down, usually on my bed or something.

Justin Alba: I have a dumb question. Isn’t that good though that you would be jumping around and doing other stuff?

Spencer Rehfield: It is good, I would say. But I don’t know if the masses are going to be willing to be that active with their games when there’s a more accessible alternative, I would say.

Matt Attanasio: Ready Player One would assume that we would want to do that.

Andrew Kreiss: A fully realized world like that? We are decades away from that kind of technology.

Matt Attanasio: I kind of want to go back really quick to what we were talking about at the beginning. VR can be used to help people?

Andrew Kreiss: Definitely.

Justin Alba: What’s one way that you guys can think of that it can help people?

Andrew Kreiss: Maybe not like help …

Justin Alba: What’s about health applications? Or psychological applications? Think exposure therapy. Do you guys know what exposure therapy is?

Andrew Kreiss: Oh, sure.

Matt Attanasio: I didn’t even think of that. It’s true.

In a Computer Science Class Boy Wearing Virtual Reality Headset Works on a Programing Project.
In a Computer Science Class Boy Wearing Virtual Reality Headset Works on a Programing Project.

Andrew Kreiss: Again, as someone who personally wouldn’t want to be using video games as a medium to move around, I could see it being used to help people who are trying to lose weight. So again, maybe set up a room, set up something and put goggles on. It’s like, “Oh it’s not a padded room anymore, it’s a meadow.”

Justin Alba: I always say, I only run if there’s Godzilla behind me.

Matt Attanasio: That too.

Justin Alba: This is the only way you can put Godzilla behind me.

Spencer Rehfield: Yeah. Godzilla will be there.

Andrew Kreiss: That would be fucking terrifying. I’m not going to lie. I like Godzilla, but …

Justin Alba: Okay, so final question and your guys’ advice… What is something these companies can do to make VR more palatable? Because like you said, it’s in your face. It’s almost annoying to have on, right? Is it constricting?

Matt Attanasio: It’s not comfortable.

Justin Alba: Is that the number one thing that needs to be fixed?

Andrew Kreiss: The number one thing would be the price point. If you’re just a casual player, you’re not someone who’s out there beefing your computer up or keeping up with the consoles. If they want to sell you a VR headset, how are you going to buy one if you’ve got to buy the console for $300 or $400? Then it doesn’t come with VR. You’ve got to buy the VR headset for another $300 or $400. Are you going to do that? Are you going to spring for maybe an extra controller instead? You can spring for some extra games with it. So definitely price point. And comfort, wearability.

Spencer Rehfield: Well, this is the inverse to all of what we were saying, pretty much, but to make it more accessible to the player who doesn’t necessarily want to run around with their games … Like, some games have this option but to have VR as a way instead of, let’s say, aiming the right stick on a kind of controller to aim, just to move their head to aim. That can still be cool and immersive, but just not as active and potentially tiring as like running around …

Matt Attanasio: There is quite a lot to keep in mind when adapting to VR for the future. There’s so much stuff involving health. I reference READY PLAYER ONE a lot because that’s where I see it going. You have that treadmill that keeps you in place. You’ve got the whole setup. Then at the same time, in the same movie, you’ve got people running around their house knocking shit over and just making a mess. There’s got to be safety regulations. There have got to be health regulations on this stuff so no one’s having a seizure or losing their vision because you’ve got a headset right in your face!

Andrew Kreiss: I could see vision issues becoming a problem as a result of VR.

Matt Attanasio: And of course, making games that don’t suck because the controls are … There’s … Like right down to the basics of the gaming aspect, just making sure it works. That’ll just take time and practice. I mean, don’t rush it, I think is a big thing. They can’t rush this because it’s the new big gimmick, it’s the new thing that’s going to make us money. Because no, if you fuck it up, no it’s not going to make you money, it’s going to put you in the ground.

Spencer Rehfield: VR gaming is still gaming first. Like that should be the primary focus. Then VR should just come after that. Like, I don’t know, gaming should just come first.

Justin Alba: I lied about that being the final question, but this is a yes or no question! Is VR going to be the new internet?

Matt Attanasio: No.

Spencer Rehfield: No.

Andrew Kreiss: Definitely not. The internet was world changing. Unless VR becomes like SURROGATES or READY PLAYER ONE, I feel like that it will still stay where it is.

Justin Alba: So early adopters right now, and that’s it?

Matt Attanasio: Yeah.

Spencer Rehfield: Yeah. Pretty much.

Andrew Kreiss: Yeah. At this point.

Justin Alba: All right, cool. So if you’re not a VR freak, if you’re not an early adopter, probably right now, according to ComicsVerse’s gaming team, is not the best time to run out and get VR.

Andrew Kreiss: Yeah.

Justin Alba: Thank you all so much for listening in. Thank you guys so much for being on this podcast!

Andrew Kreiss: No problem.

Spencer Rehfield: Hope we have many more to come.

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