It was the year 2015. I had invested in a PC. A monster PC. An expensive PC.
Core i7, 32Gb, tri-SLI GPU, case the size of a coffin, fans that would make Boeing's wind tunnel seem like a gentle breeze. Water cooling. Water. Running over my processor. A 40" 4k monitor that sits 2 feet away from my face. A resolution so ridiculous that the Windows icons are literally 1 cm square.
All of this was in the name of gaming. Gaming in 4k. But primarly getting myself ready to take delivery of an Oculus Rift DK2, the second generation of Development ready hardware from the VR pioneer.
I have been an avid gamer since the age of 8. My Atari VCS, then Colecovision, then Spectrum 48k, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga. Not to mention the consoles from Sega, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft. Every generation that my parents could barely afford to indulge me in, and then when I started earning, every generation I could afford for myself.
With each generation came new innovations. The sounds and sprites of the C64. The instant load of cartridges. The online capabilities of the Xbox. HD gaming on PS and Xbox. But arguably these innovations were really just iterations. Yes there was the thrill of seeing the quality leap between SD and HD - but this was already apparent on the move from DVD to Bluray.
No, the real leap in innovation came from that first time I put on the Oculus Rift DK2. The first time I fired up the Oculus Runtime configuration utility and saw a blue room with a desk. A badly rendered one with minimal detail. I was, for the first time in 36 years, experiencing what was a new sense in gaming, of computing - that of immersion.
It didn't matter that it had taken me two days to get the headset working. Downloading drivers, reinstalling them over and over, configuring the video card just so, updating windows, uninstalling anti-virus software. It didn't matter that I had a wedge of cables weighing my head down. It didn't matter that the USB connectors on my PC needed reworking to get the correct power to the Rift.
All that mattered was that experience. That immersion.
I downloaded everything that I could to witness this new world. Often tech demos, unfinished code musings from people experimenting in this space. But each and every one opened my eyes to the possibilities of what this technology could do.
Gaming is one thing, but imagine what this new sense of immersion means to education, to training, to people who are less able to move around, to industry. I can now legitimately experience peaking Everest, landing on the moon and other things that I would otherwise never witness in reality.
Do yourself a favour. Try it.
Craig Rich - Sept 16