Some months ago I was looking for some interesting VR news on one of my favorite sources, the VIRTUAL REALITY community on Facebook, when I stumbled upon an article on a website called VR Dizzy. I opened it and reading it quickly I found that the news it was offering was really weird and strange, thinking that who had written it was under some hallucinating substance. The next week, I found another link to the same website, and I opened it out of curiosity: I read the article and found it strange but very funny: in that moment, I clearly understood that this was not another blog or news website about VR, but a satirical website about the virtual reality ecosystem.
From that moment on, I continued reading VR Dizzy articles, because I find them entertaining and I find the VR Dizzy product very very original: in a moment where we all are taking VR too seriously, they just try to make us smile, by mocking all the VR news and roboant headlines of journalists. In this sense, VR Dizzy remembers me the satirical “EXTRA!EXTRA!” magazine on /r/Oculus subreddit.
I contacted Victor Riddle, one of the creators of this cool project, and asked him for an interview. Here you are what he has said to me:
Victor, tell us something about you and VRDizzy!
By day I’m a VR game and app creator and VR/AR enthusiast. I’ve been making good and bad VR stuff for the last 5 years ever since I fell in love with the Tuscany demo on DK1. In my spare time, I’m a writer, t-shirt designer and graphic artist at VR Dizzy.
VR Dizzy is a satirical VR news site (described as the “Onion for VR” by some). It’s really a collection of thoughts/observations on the current state of the VR/AR industry wrapped up in absurdity. It features spoof articles inspired by real life experiences and the people I’ve met over the years in this crazy and ever changing industry.
I think that VR Dizzy is a very original product. How was the idea of VR Dizzy born?
VR Dizzy was born in January 2017 on a Monday morning while sitting on the train on the way to work. I’d had enough of crazy VR growth projections, wild claims of ‘X’ solving VR sickness, thoughtless articles on how VR was going to revolutionize ‘X’ industry, marketing agencies regurgitating buzzwords they didn’t understand and uneducated journalists comparing VR with Kinect and 3DTV! Seriously?…Kinect! (facepalm).
I decided to try writing. The first thing to note is that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing (I still don’t). I do have a love of silly humor (and beavers some of you may have noticed) so a satirical VR site seemed like the right way to go.
I set myself the task of building a news site and most importantly writing lots of articles to see if the idea had legs. I also really enjoy designing t-shirts so I asked a good friend to help me set up an online t-shirt store and give me feedback on the articles. 9 months and 50 articles later we agreed VR Dizzy might actually work. It launched in November 2017 and updates with one or two new articles every Wednesday.
I think that your website is awesome because in the VR ecosystem people takes things too much seriously (think about the Oculus vs Vive fanboyism or all the debate about the fact that VR is dead, etc…). Has this been a driver for the creation of your platform? Do you think that VR needs more laughter and less serious debates?
You can’t have too much laughter in life, right? OK. Maybe if you’re a surgeon or funeral director. I don’t think I ever intended to make a statement to say let’s laugh at ourselves a bit more as an industry. Serious debate is important in our industry and I enjoy taking part in these discussions in the various groups. It helps in most cases bring clarity to the noise. The saltier ‘my VR is better than your VR’ gets a bit silly at times but it’s human nature I guess. This stuff has been with us as long as technology has been around. Amiga vs ST, Virtual Boy vs Viewmaster. The ‘VR is dead’ grumblings in 2017 was largely a result of journalists outside our industry reacting to over-inflated hardware sales projections not playing out as expected. This kind of things have to some degree been drivers for VR Dizzy but to be honest it just felt like it was the time the VR industry had its own satirical news site.
Has someone ever got angry because of your posts?
Sure! The ‘VR is probably shit claims bored tech journalist‘ article got one guy spitting like a post-apocalyptic mad dog. I don’t think he realized it was an observation of uneducated journalism and saw it as an attack on the thing he loved. A couple of others have caused mild upset but I kind of expected some of that.
What are your future plans for your website? What’s your dream?
Did I mention I have no idea what I’m doing? For now, I’d like to just keep going and maybe find a way for the site to pay for itself without stretching the articles over 4 pages and decorating them with adverts for ‘sexy mobile MMO’s’ 🙂
[I think he’s talking about websites like mine… but I don’t understand if he doesn’t like the fact that I write too much or he doesn’t like sexy mobile MMOs… it should be the first one I guess 😀 ]
Seriously speaking, what is your opinion on the current state of VR? And do you think that it will succeed in the end?
Now we’re starting to get over VR’s novelty era I believe many of us are settling into the hard work that lies ahead. The user base is relatively small (but steadily growing) and publishers/clients are very cautious with budgets. VR developers need to be very smart about ambition, team sizes, format choices, and ROI. Having said that there’s a lot of people investing money and energy into clearly understanding and addressing VRs many problems including price, hardware quality, HMD comfort, tracking, control, nausea, accessibility, locomotion design etc. VR enthusiasts are super impatient (me included!). We want the Holodeck today and the Oasis next week but we’re slowly realizing this will take some time.
Do I think VR will succeed in the end? Abso-frikkin-lutely! If by ‘succeed’ we mean continued growth, engagement and a user base capable of supporting large sized dev teams. I don’t think in the short term VR will achieve mainstream adoption (comparable to smartphones) and I don’t think it really matters. VR is a unique medium. I’ve seen people cry real tears of joy after experiencing something meaningful in VR. I’ve seen people shake with fear, gasp in delight, lose themselves in other worlds and be genuinely awestruck with experiences they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Any technology that can have this effect on people is going to be around forever.
Have you ever played Half Life 3?
[He has refused to answer this question, so I think that he has tried it but he doesn’t want to tell us… damn!]
And that’s it with this very interesting yet funny interview, that I really enjoyed doing! I really wish the best for the VR Dizzy project, I hope that it can last for a long time. And if you like absurd humor as me, every Wednesday give them a look to have your weekly dose of VR smiles 🙂 See you in the MetaVase!
(Header image by VR Dizzy)
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