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Former Valve VR Dev: "VR Is Bad News. I Want Out." Should We Heed the Warning?

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As it stands today, virtual reality is the next “big frontier” in gaming. With projects as large in scope as the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus going on, it’s hard to not be excited for what it all could bring to the gaming table. And yet, it seems as though not everybody is as jubilant about it as you may assume.

Former Valve VR contractor Fabian Giesen recently shared an e-mail he sent back in 2012 when he quit his first contract over at Valve:


Subject: I want out.

As the subject says, I would like to end my contract with Valve – preferably by
the end of the month, though I realize that’s probably too short of a notice.

Part of this has to do with the direction of the project. With AR, there’s a
variety of information display/visualization applications, all of which are at
the very least interesting and could turn out to be tremendously empowering in
various ways. The endpoint of VR, on the other hand – all engineering
practicalities of first aiming for a seemingly easier goal aside – seems to be
fundamentally anti-social, completing the sad trajectory of entertainment moving
further and further away from shared social experiences. (As I have mentioned
multiple times, I find the limited, formalized, abstracted and ultimately
alienated social interactions in most forms of online gaming to be immensely
off-putting).

So, at least as VR is concerned, while I find the tech interesting and
challenging, I am deeply ambivalent about what it leads to.

That is not the primary reason for this mail, but it certainly is a factor in
my decision.

It’s certainly a strongly-worded e-mail, one that Giesen notes is due to good familiarity and frequent contact with the recipient, as in he knows this individual personally, and that much is reflected in the message.

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