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Recently I attended a gathering of future alchemists, the tribe who discovered the ability to harness this power to turn metals into gold though they are not fully ready to give us their secrets, they are known as the Oculus. Like the apprentice witnessing the magic of the old wise ones, we sit on the sidelines and try to decipher what the signs mean. We are the attendant developers. Due to the gravity of what the Oculusians have discovered and their appearance of maybe being a different species than that of our own, we sit transfixed and hanging on their unique communication skills. In effect we are the Neanderthals, they the Homo Sapiens. This is the gulf of knowledge and skill that is occurring in real time among us competing tribes. We are living through an evolutionary moment in history that is about to define the trajectory of the dominant species. Our goal as the invited guests of this meeting called “Oculus Connect” is to assimilate the language and customs of our new teachers. They have parceled out small fragments of the words that give them their power. They have shared fetishes called HMD’s, the “beads” of the 21st century.
It would be warmly welcomed should the missionaries from Oculus have their founder speak with us first. Instead he was hidden from us, only making a short appearance via video. Maybe they thought the power of Palmer Luckey may be too great for us to witness or that they had to pave the way for our minds to be expanded over the course of the day in preparation for the Oracle of the Virtual. In his stead we were greeted by their chief, Brenden Iribe. It was not a poor performance, on the contrary, by the end of his grand talk we were enthralled to have been the first of our peoples to behold the golden Crescent Bay. This device is so powerful that one’s first glimpse could only be through simulation, a photo depicting its eminence was brought before our eyes. I have since heard there were those who were blinded by the sorcery offered that day.
Next up to speak to the chosen 1,000 was a scientist, a man of great mental scope and intuition called Michael Abrash. Had we been lesser people, his code may have been indecipherable, but either through his ability to speak of the complex in simpler terms, or our gathering enlightenment, we went on a ride that helped explain how now is the time of VR! The room sat in silence hanging on these words of wisdom.
What happened next defies one’s ability to comprehend what must surely be an illusion, a bending of reality, a deception of magic. On this day the laws that govern the secret behavior of electrons and photons were altered in ways that will never allow us to be the same as when we entered this great hall. While history will hail the efforts and skills of the founder of Oculus, it was the raw overwhelming mental giant of all things on the molecular scale John Carmack who bathed our brains in the incandescent glow of profundity that only true genius is able to accomplish. Heads hung in shame of not being able to grasp the immensity of the words spoken, people wept in his presence, while yet others simply had to leave the space where such a power was on display, thus is the power of Carmack. New vocabularies were explored during the hour he was allotted on his podium of the profound. If anyone else in attendance care to share a fraction of what was said this day, let him come forward and enlighten the masses.
Our emissaries attended workshops where specialization in particular skills were being offered. They will be responsible for bringing back their observations to educate those of us who remained on the periphery. Those on the periphery, we are the philosophers and the plenipotentiary, we are trying to decide the meaning of what VR will bring to our peoples. While mastery of the world around us has proven invaluable and given us special powers, it has also been fraught with conflict and the abuse of power. So we must think hard and do our best to understand how this will alter our relationship with our fellow citizens, travelers, merchants, and explorers. Our task to interpret the relevant cultural iconography and histories that should play a role between our peoples cannot be taken lightly, for “Content” is the holy grail which we are being entrusted to seek out and discover.
For well over a year now a cadre of us global representatives have toiled with the tools we have been told will be essential to the creation of this new alchemy, such as the Unreal Engine, Unity, Blender and Maya, 3D-Coat and ZBrush, Substance Designer and now Painter too. We still cling to the old tools too until they have been proven to be outdated such as C++, 3DS Max, Photoshop, and xNormals – these were the early tools our ancestors forged in order to carve a path to this new world.
While I would like to report the secret goings on within the confines of the private indoctrination ceremonies called “Workshops” I found myself in direct contact with three representatives from Oculus, known as Callum, Aaron, and Chris. They were on hand to steal a peek at the work this seven person team known as Timefire have been crafting in the seclusion of the desert, far away from the goings on of the technological elite who might steal from this nascent group of prospectors on their own quest for gold. With Aaron immersed around the corner taken by a “Mobile VR App” (at the moment this secret weapon appears to hold much weight with the Oculusians) and could not grant me a proper audience, but this was nothing to despair of as Sir Callum gifted me his Card of Passage encouraging me to remain in close contact.
Invigorated, for how else should one feel following such intense scrutiny? I attempted to gather my thoughts, but I must admit weakness. For at the age where youth has now escaped me, I found myself troubled by the prospect that my insight may finally be growing frail. Is my path to Seated-and-Tethered Virtual Reality the correct course or do my observations of a youthful class of exuberant firebrands embracing this barely understood “Mobile VR” portend things I cannot yet dream of? The cave I must return to in order to contemplate these lofty questions will not exist in our physical reality much longer, the virtual cave awaits me. Let me wish that the virtual incarnation of myself be wise and courageous as he steps into this new Alchemy of Communication. Long live the Oculus, long live the Virtual and Virtuous.
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