Valve Employee Talks Virtual Reality Gaming

Industry veterans seem to be betting that the time is right for virtual reality to get big.

The future of video gaming may lie in virtual reality. No, that's not 1996 calling; its Valve Software's Michael Abrash, a game industry legend and one of the minds behind Quake and Doom. Abrash recently sat down for an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun and shared his thoughts on the future of gaming and potential for VR technology to change how we play game.

One of the reasons the time seems right for VR to make a comeback is the Oculus Rift, a VR headset that's got gaming luminaries like John Carmack raving and developers throwing money at it over on Kickstarter.

But what has Abrash really excited are all of the ideas we haven't had yet. Abrash compared VR gaming to the dawn of first-person shooters and the widespread use of smartphones, events that didn't just create new games but allowed for new ways of thinking about multiplayer and casual gaming. Once high-res, fully immersive headsets like Oculus Rift are regularly used by gamers, what kind of games can we create?

Since Abrash is a Valve employee he was typically tight-lipped about specifics and said that, for now, he's concentrating on solving some of the technical hardware problems that still need to be solved to make virtual reality gaming popular.

While he believes this is the moment for VR, Abrash is much more skeptical of another "future of gaming" that's been tossed around a lot lately, augmented reality. While projects like Google Glass are providing an interesting platform for AR, Abrash claims there are several problems (both technical and creative) with the current state of AR.

His most incisive critique is that (for now, at least) AR just lets you drop stuff on top of the real world and doesn't let you overwrite or delete things the way you can in virtual reality. "You can only add color [with AR]," says Abrash, while speaking with Rock Paper Shotgun's Nathan Grayson. "You can't overwrite things, because you're putting up images, but you're also seeing through [your display]."

If you want to hear all Abrash's thoughts on gaming's future, head over to Rock Paper Shotgun for the full interview.

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David Daw

PC World (US online)
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