In the past week, the gaming community has effectively demonized the once golden promise of the Oculus Rift. With last week’s sale of the company to Facebook, a fierce nerd-rage has taken the gamers by storm, sparking incredible controversy across all avenues of the web. For those readers somehow still unaware of what this device is, the Oculus Rift is a virtual reality project that has been in testing with several games. Gamers were excited to see what this device could bring to gaming. In short, Facebook bought the Oculus Rift, the gaming community immediately took this as a betrayal. Why would the makers of a gaming device sell out to a non-gaming company? What could Facebook even want with this? The public will have to wait and see what Facebook will announce for its future plans. However with all of this said and done, why is the Oculus Rift still under fire from the gaming community?
In spite of all the rage, the Oculus Rift has certainly generated a fair amount of attention, and slowly the opinions have been shifting from vastly negative to slightly less negative, likely due to the amount of non-gamers now becoming involved in the conversation. Facebook’s purchase has made this not just a gaming issue, but now a business issue, a media issue, and a technology issue. Heated arguments flare up on all corners of the internet, and there are ethics questions being raised about a crowdfunded project selling for such a major purchase. Minecraft creator, Notch, withdrew his support of the Oculus Rift after the Facebook sale, and Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski has recently called him out on being a “pouty kid” for doing so. Cliff certainly has a big mouth for what is easily one of the most underwhelming game series of the last generation.
The most shocking development in the Oculus Rift war has had the employees under fire from the disgruntled community. A statement has brought up “death threats” and “harassing phone calls.” This is a gravely serious issue, on the side of the gaming community, since they make up the largest part of those that are enraged by the sale. Actions like these reflect the exact immaturity and affinity for violence that the gaming community has been accused of in the past. Although video games and their players are making great strides to improve the social standing on video games, one would imagine that a community wanting to be recognized beyond button mashing would hold itself to a higher standard above petty threats and demeaning phone calls.
Amidst the negativity that has come from this situation, others have taken a higher path. A Canadian startup True Player Gear has taken the backlash following the sale as an opportunity to unveil their own virtual reality device, known simply as the Totem for now. They will launch a Kickstarter asking for $500,000 and will hope to have a finished product by Christmas. They have said it will be more expensive that the Oculus Rift, but that should not come as a surprise to anyone, given the Oculus Rift’s now incredibly deep pockets. With the fiery rage over Oculus Rift showing no signs of going under, it is refreshing to see a part of the gaming community come forward with something constructive rather than destructive.
Opinion by Michael Foster
New York Times