VR is here, and it turns out it's pretty bloody good. Games like Valve's The Lab and Rust's Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades have shown off the room scale and 1-1 controller tracking elements superbly, enough so that when we had to send back our demo unit I nearly cried a little tear of pure despair.
Impressive as it may be, however, convincing early adopters and games journalists (all known idiots) of its worth is the easy part: those guys thought the 3DO was good, after all. The hard part is selling it to real people, like your mum and dad: you know, people with mortgages and Renault Meganes and that. To do so, Valve is going to need some good marketing. Like these beauties.
Absolutely guaranteed to bring back pangs of both nostalgia (if you were there) and guilt (if you were there and dressed yourself), this ABC Primetime report on Virtuality is a look at the British firm's then-pioneering VR tech, which you may remember seeing in arcades and vaguely wondering if that's what the future was, before playing more Splatterhouse.
There's so much to admire here I barely know where to start: that the VR sequences with people dressed in boxy 80s fashions laid over the top look like the Talking Heads/Peter Gabriel collaboration that sadly never happened? That ABC anchor Sam Donaldson looks exactly like a vengeful, confused Thunderbird come to life? That it has cameos by Patrick Bateman (played by Virtuality's Dr. Jonathan Waldren) or Paul Schrader (played by some dude that looks like Paul Schrader)?
Or is it the utterly insane ramblings of Harold Weinberg, an author who looks like a 1940s private investigator who found a time machine that could only take him onto the set of The Lone Gunmen and who, seemingly without any irony whatsoever, claims that 1991's military VR simulators were so convincing that soldiers wouldn't know if their commanding officer had switched the fake images for real ones in order to expedite some real killings. Given that VR then was about as faithful to the reality of military action as Operation Wolf, I think we're safe, Harold.
If you ever needed any more evidence that the 90s were a wasteland of edgy tryhard cool, 'baditude', and shirts that didn't fit, even when 60% of it is tucked in, then look no further. This presentation at CES (opened and closed by Alan Hunter, one of the original MTV VJs) is so cringeworthy it feels like a joke. As if to underscore this fact, when the word 'dimensional' appears on screen the 'dim' part of it is bigger than the rest, and Hunter himself certainly appears to be in on it: he seems to always be seconds away from simply laughing and saying 'honestly, guys, this is the worst thing to happen to heads since brain damage, and it's twice as ugly'.
The accompanying VT is breathtakingly bad, like if you gave a bunch of kids the money and equipment to make their own 90s WWE promo videos. Endless shots of people oohing and ahhing and overacting, talk of minds being blown, the teeth are perfect, the hair is parted down the middle, at one point the phrase 'vastly radical' turns up on screen, and because it's 1993 no-one questions it, not one person. One of the actors, while hanging out with his cool chums, casually remarks how he thought that he'd never see VR this good until years into the future, when he was 30, which is a surprise because he looks 35, Luke Perry-style, the full works.
The VT ends with a price point – $200 – which never came to pass, because the hardware never came to pass. Hunter then asks a middle aged man onto the stage to show him that VR is real, but mainly to take the piss out of him, and the man – who honestly couldn't look more confused if he had stepped through a time displacement device – babbles some inaudible questions before being banished. It is the best and worst thing I have ever seen.
Atari's last throw of the dice in the hardware market has come to be known as what historians call 'an absolute fucking disaster', but the Jaguar had some interesting ideas. Granted, the interpretation of 'interesting' is fairly loose, given that Atari somehow thought that a controller shaped like a house with 200 buttons on it and a CD add-on that made the machine look like a toilet were good ideas, but still. It was the 90s, and things like that were tolerated.
In 1995, however, the Jaguar was entering the final stages of its decline, and it needed a saviour. Hope. Glory. VR? Sadly, what it got was this, a tech demo of Missile Command which is now only notable for the exchange between the two people in this video, one of whom sounds exactly like noted boxing/football commentator Ian Darke and another who, like all North Americans, is incapable of pronouncing the word Jaguar. It's Jag-YOU-r, you bastards, not Jag-Wahr. JAG-WAHR?! Listen to yourselves. Honestly. Do it.
Perhaps the only example, ever, of an ad which is more ridiculous than its Japanese counterpart.