The 5 Worst Uses of Virtual Reality Ever

February 9, 2017

10:30 am

Any emerging technology will have its fair share of failures, and virtual reality is no different. Sure, there are plenty of wins, too — my favorite is the decision to include fake noses — but if you’re looking for a quick list of the pitfalls VR developers have faced down in the recent past, look no farther.

1: The One-Eye VR Headset

The name “R-Zone” was just the first mistake that Tiger Electronics made when they released their VR headset way back in 1995. The biggest problem? The set was designed to be used by just the user’s left eye, in order to keep the 3D tech working properly. Eye strain was terrible. But hey, at least everyone’s right eye was fine. And they got this cool retro commercial out of the deal:

2: VR Neck Controls

As virtual reality was developing, people realized that they needed to pioneer new types of interfaces to help users organically control the device. And there’s just one point of constant point of contact with VR: The user’s face. But the neck was a poor choice for a control. Here’s what Co.Design had to say about the concept:

 “It was the worst trend to emerge with the rise of VR: Neck controls, or what are sometimes euphemized as “gaze controls.” These controls basically turn your neck into a joystick. And let me tell you, the human neck was not designed to be used like a joystick.”

There’s just one thing head nods should be used for: saying hi to a friend in a cool way.

3: Whatever Is Going On Here

The Guardian reported an outrage on social media at the Tokyo Game Show with this use of VR.

4: Directly Porting Older Games Into VR

It’s an understandable problem: You need to have cool games available before anyone will consider switching to VR. But the specific demands of the medium — limited movement, mostly — mean that a classic shooter or adventure game will be way too disorienting in 3D. It makes sense when you think about it. No film adaptation of a book, play, or video game is ever exactly the same, since all the mediums have different strengths and weaknesses.

5: All VR Stock Photos

Stock photography’s struggle to naturally depict radical advancements in technology is one of the most well-documented VR failures out there. Just take a look at this image. Why is this woman outside? Why is this guy fading into the scenery like a bad PowerPoint presentation? Why is this woman riding a freaking bicycle?

Even this image, one of the more normal ones out there, has the red tint of a laboratory in lockdown. But I can’t complain too much. At least there’s no sign of a one-eyed VR headset.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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