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John Carmack says he's not 'satisfied with the pace of progress' in VR development

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Oculus VR CTO John Carmack was given a lifetime achievement award today at the third annual VR Awards, recognizing not just his contributions to VR in his years at Oculus but also "an illustrious career which has spanned over several decades."

"John has been an inspiration to us all in the virtual reality industry; we are proud to recognize the work he has done and the immense impact he is continuing to make," AIXR chief executive Daniel Colaianni said. "As the hardware and technology continues to evolve, John will no doubt be leading at the forefront of innovation for virtual reality."

The Accenture VR Lifetime Achievement Award is the first to be handed out by the VR industry, which is still very much in a nascent state. Carmack alluded to that in his acceptance speech video, saying that his initial reaction to learning about the award was to think that it might be "premature."

"I'm often kind of grumpy around the office because I really haven't been satisfied with the pace of progress that we've been making. When I'm in VR I see the magic there, but my brain is always throwing up these giant 'to do' Post-It Notes on top of everything, reminding me of all the work that's yet to be done. So it's going to be a little while before I really feel good about reminiscing about my achievements," Carmack said.

He nodded to his "brushes with paleo-VR" in the 1990s, but said that he considers the modern era of virtual reality to have begun with Palmer Luckey's Oculus Rift prototype, which he helped show off at E3. But while the technology has advanced since then, Carmack acknowledged that VR itself remains very niche.

"All that technology really doesn't mean much until it's brought in service of user value," he said. "So more than anything, I hope that I've been helpful in bringing this new canvas for people to work on, and that the work that those people do will be paving the way in the future."