Something funny happened on the way to the Virtual Reality (VR) hype train. Turns out... it's not all hype. It truly is an exciting time to be a freelancer. In the past twenty plus years as a digital freelancer there have been many "great new things" come and go. All of them promised a great new future with features never before seen. Over the years some delivered while others faded away or fell into niches. Any digital artist that keeps up with related software and hardware knows the pain of the continual upgrade. It's a life sentence. The challenge of new interfaces, the deprecation of previous work. Ground floor opportunities for those lucky enough or hard working enough to be prepared at the right time. And sadly, the eventual decline of a host of previous "great new things". It's a vicious but necessary cycle in the life of the freelancer.
Now with VR headsets being delivered the average jane or joe is closer to getting their hands on tools that quite possibly will bend their minds, warp their world and open up creativity to a new dimension of human experience. Yeah... I know... that's a ton of hype and so far, at least for some of us that have experienced this very hands on and mind numbing technology, it's all too real and the VR train is just getting fired up.
Sure cost is still an obstacle for mass adoption and the hardware a bit clunky but the same was true of computers in general. There was a time when the average pc was thousands of dollars and your grandma's calculator could keep up with it in terms of Mhz. Now your grandma's calculator IS the computer in some cases. It just so happens to be the phone too but that's trivial at this point because... Lt. Commander La Forge... it's time to meet on the holodeck. Maybe it's not quite that advanced but strapping yourself into a VR headset with the proper attitude and quite possibly adult supervision, you will enter a world that for this writer defies description.
For those fortunate enough to be involved in the early development of VR, whether it's the hardware itself or the new applications, it has been a profound, if not life changing experience for a few. No I'm not running out and starting up a new religion (tax benefits aside) because it's not THAT life changing but the concepts spawning from after work round table discussions are mind blowing to say the least. It's like being back in the days of early computing... getting past DOS and into the GUI environment. Or when "Object Based" programming came on the scene. It's that significant to some of us.
It is not uncommon for fellow freelancers to run into each other on different VR projects from different game developers and studios. In fact, there seems to be a core group that moves from project to project sometimes dragging along their cohorts from the previous project. NDA's are honored but it's not hard to see each other's email address on the list. The need for competent graphics artists that can follow direction and deliver on time keeps growing as more developers jump onto the VR bandwagon. Is it a flash in the pan? 3D TV? That would really hurt to think VR would stumble like that but let's face it 3D TV was a hard sell for a good salesman. There wasn't much meat on that bone. VR is another animal altogether. Even grandma and grandpa will be amazed and quite possibly enthralled.
If you don't see the possibilities this first step in home VR presents, then I would have to say you probably need to shovel more coal into your steam engine so that infernal electricity doesn't interfere with your way of life. No... it won't cure diseases... or will it... given time and maturity of the concept? Heck of a question. Heck of a "great new thing". It's an exciting time to be a freelancer.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. You can learn more about MD at his website.