I am Gen-X. I was once dazzled by a blob of pixels on a propriety machine that could accurately be described by today’s standards as the worst table tennis simulation of all time on the worst home gaming system of all time: Pong. But what was it that the current, dazzling iterations of table tennis video games will never be? THE FIRST.
I have literally seen the entire evolution of personal virtual reality from the Atari Pong system to Atari 2600, to Commodore 64, to Nintendo, to Compuserve, to the World Wide Web, to MySpace, to Facebook, to iPhone, to the so-called failed Metaverse. And who were the early adopters? Geeks, who we once scorned for their love of the silly tech “toys” they became obsessed with. Many of the specific technologies and tech companies are gone or morphed. Failed, I guess you could say, at least as a business, but they were all part of the evolution, the survival of the fittest.
But look at us now. Can anyone claim the title of geek for playing video games? Or using personal computers? Or using the internet? Or blogging? Or vlogging? Or vining? Or social media? All things that the geeks helped forge into being until the rest of the world followed en masse with the world wide web, laptops, tablets, smart phones, YouTube, Tik Tok, Facebook, and mass participation in gaming. And these have reached a level of technological maturity in the process, and all of these are evolutionary steps in virtual reality.
And here we are once more, with the next logical steps of virtual reality: VR and AR. And who is the first to attempt a fully immersive VR world? Meta (Facebook), the obvious choice given their massive user-base and technology infrastructure. When I watched the film adaptation of Ready Player One (a movie I was just as dazzled by as when I saw Pong on a TV ad for the first time), I knew that Facebook would be the first to give it a crack. My first response to the signs that Metaverse might be going down in flames was resentment. I’m ready for VR world. I’m ready for Ready Player One. And who’s killing it? Tech geeks. They hate it with a fury. Not good enough for them.
Will it be the Pong of VR? Or will it be the end of VR? It may very well become the Pong, but I do not believe it will be the end. We’ve sent in the geeks to destroy it for us. They expect more than I do. They want better graphics, seamless experience, better devices, and an open market. They will crush any attempt that doesn’t meet their high standards, and when someone finally gets it right, they will hold it close like a precious jewel that is not to be shared with mortals like me. I will be the one who comes in and ruins it for the geeks. I’m the dad on Facebook that drives you to Snap Chat and turns Facebook into an ever-present, ubiquitous force in the world…and whatever follows it.
Metaverse? I friggin love it, or at least the concept of it. I’m dazzled. I only played one game of Pong, but I played a lot more of Atari, and even more of Commodore 64. I logged on to the Compuserve network twice, the internet at my university computer lab a dozen times, and now I have it in my pocket. I spent some time on bulletin boards, even more on MySpace, and now every day on Facebook.
Listen up, Tech Geek friends. You have a job to do. You have a responsibility to humiliate, destroy, champion, and give birth to whatever is next in virtual reality. And it’s going to be way bigger than you. Bigger than your interests. Some iteration of it is going to be the critical mass that forever changes the way we interact with the world; socially, in business, and for entertainment. I would stake my dumped shares of Meta on it.