Watch Michael Abrash and John Carmack talk about the rosy future and practical present of VR

If the timecode in the video above doesn't work, skip to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

My favorite thing about any Oculus Connect is listening to Michael Abrash talk. Abrash is Oculus's chief science officer, focused on R&D for the VR technology of five, 10, 20 years from now. He helped John Carmack program Quake, and today the two work at Oculus in very different categories, which coincidentally makes their annual keynotes fascinating counterpoints. Abrash talks excitedly about what VR is capable of and how we might overcome the immense technical challenges to get there. Carmack talks about the work being done right now, and is openly critical of Oculus's current tech. They're as entertaining and informative this year as ever.

Abrash's talk embedded above is about half an hour, and is a great overview of how far VR tech has come in the past four years, and what's on the horizon. He throws in a few anecdotes from his days working on Quake at id, but mostly looks back at his predictions from past keynotes to grade progress so far. In almost every case, he says the technology is actually advancing faster than he predicted.

The big theme for Abrash's talk this year is that those working in VR today are building the future of how we'll play games, work, and interact with technology, just as the people who worked at Xerox PARC in the 1970s pioneered the personal computer and the graphical computer interface. Windows and Mac OS wouldn't exist without that research lab. I'm a VR skeptic these days—I don't know that I buy it will ever take over for those technologies—but Abrash always backs up his predictions with a clear vision of future tech.

If you have another hour and a half to burn, there's Carmack's talk: a deep tech dive into the challenges of building VR hardware and software, largely focused on the Oculus Go. His work at Oculus sadly isn't on high-end PC VR, but he also talks about the new Oculus Quest headset, and takes a fun dig at Oculus's aspirational advertising. If you want some of the nitty gritty of what the Quest is capable of, this is a good way to get it.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).