We’re only two months into 2016 and if you’re even remotely paying attention to tech and gaming news, you’re most likely sick to death of people calling 2016 “The Year of VR.” I mean, we get it: TV scientists can’t cram any more pixels onto a screen so they have to invent something new to keep themselves in a job. After two or so years of listening to the occasional super nerd go on an Oculus Rift rant, Netflix has expressed its own desire to create VR programming, which marks the first official time that VR has sounded like a cool idea.
OK, statistically speaking, saying that virtual reality sounds like complete bunk makes me sound like an old guy (but, seriously, what’s wrong with a layer of insulation between you and your story?). According to some really expensive study that was recently released, being into VR is a young man’s game, anyway. Those number nerds concluded that society is generally excited about the idea of VR, but only kids are really interested in getting their hands on some virtual reality, sight unseen.
Perhaps I’m just too set in my gaming ways. A fully immersive Grand Theft Auto doesn’t sound fun, it sounds horrifying. The only way I was able to enjoy myself playing as Trevor in GTA V was the very defined fourth wall separating me from his sociopathy. Even first-person play sessions got a little intense when the majority of your game time is spent mowing down other humans.
Meanwhile, the idea of a well done VR television show sounds interesting. Netflix has a good history of experimental original programming that proves it’s not afraid to take chances. Just look at Orange Is the New Black, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, or Sense8 for proof of that.
Netflix has already dipped the proverbial toe in the VR waters with an app for Samsung’s Gear device. Right now, the app is basically just a 360-degree rendering of an opulent living room with a massive big screen TV:
It’s still pretty slick, though. It’s almost a shame that the company isn’t more gung-ho about true VR programming.
As Chris Jaffe, Netflix’s VP of User Interface Innovation (because that’s a real thing, apparently), explained earlier today, “We think there’s a great opportunity for VR in gaming and the gaming space is going to be an interesting place for them to explore it. We don’t see an opportunity right now in the near-term for Netflix and VR, but we do want to watch how great story tellers use this technology.”
On the level, I couldn’t give half a shit about 2016 being the year of virtual reality gaming. But give me the opportunity to walk around inside a sitcom and you might be on to something.