As the guy who masterminded Elite: Dangerous, you might expect Frontier Developments founder David Braben to be a big advocate of virtual reality. And as he recently told Videogamer.com, he does think it's pretty great. But he also has concerns about its potential long-term impact on an audience that's already "disconnected" from the world around it, and, perhaps more specifically, that audience's parents.
"I'm afraid, as an industry, about VR and how it will play out. It has that slightly 'bandwagon' feel about it. VR is great, don't get me wrong, and I enjoy it," Braben said. "But what I suppose the concern is, when [VR] goes broad, if it goes broad, is seeing your kids on the sofa, even more disconnected than they are now, with headphones and headsets on, I think from a parental point of view is going to be a negative."
"I think that as an industry we need to thinking about that now. About how we position it," he explained. "I think it's important that someone when they come into the room they can see what [you're] doing. Currently, that's not necessarily the case. It's that sort of thing that I think is important, and whilst [VR] is still at the moment, let's admit it, quite niche, we know of a number of production [units] coming very shortly. And so I suppose that's just a concern."
It's an interesting perspective, given that most concerns about VR center on either the costly technology required to deliver a worthwhile experience, or the problems some users have with motion sickness. And despite its faint whiff of "you kids and your rock-and-roll music," I think there's validity to what he says. Not that we're going to end up living in a world of pale, malnourished VR zombies, trapped in a narcotic fantasy behind our visors, but that this is something the industry might want to get to grips with, before the moral panic (again) kicks into gear.