Your cyberpunk games are dangerous

Fascinating article from Jon Peterson goes over the history of government intervention in gaming, and how it relates to the internet we have today. Includes this on the Dungeons & Dragons scare of the 80s:

This misunderstanding arose only five months after TSR obtained widespread notoriety in a similar confusion surrounding the disappearance of college student James Dallas Egbert III in East Lansing, Michigan. A private detective hired to find Egbert had learned that the young man played TSR’s role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons–at the time virtually unknown to mainstream America–and hypothesized that Egbert had come to believe the game was real. Famously, this led to calls for a search of the college steam tunnels, where presumably Egbert would be found wandering in a deluded stupor, questing for monsters and treasure.

Actually, Egbert had run away to Louisiana for unrelated reasons, but a seed was then planted in the American popular imagination. Role-playing games were dangerous: they warped fragile young minds, breaking down the barriers between the real and the imaginary. The irony is that it was the authorities, not the players, who couldn’t tell a game from reality.

The Movie Theater Cyberpocalypse Has Begun

Ben Kuchera writing about turning the Samsung and Oculus’ Gear VR into a portable movie theater:

The rewards are great, even if the resolution is slightly lower than you may be used to on your standard HDTV. With a good set of headphones I’m completely isolated from my real environment. I look around and all I see is the theater and the movie. There is no Twitter, no Facebook and no background noise. No usher will ever come in and start cleaning. The floor is never sticky. There are no distractions.

This is the power of portable virtual reality; the ability to find yourself alone in a huge space using a device that fits into your backpack. The illusion of watching a film on a giant screen is complete, and being alone for two hours is amazing. Isolation on demand feels almost luxurious, as having your own personal movie theater isn’t something possible for most people, and the fact this virtual version requires no physical upkeep is even better.

Gear VR isn’t very exciting as a product because of the limited hardware capabilities and how unlikely it would be for Samsung to continue in VR. Altogether it seems like a complete waste of time for developers to target that platform and a derailment for Oculus. Maybe there is some advantage to it that I’m not seeing yet, but it just feels like another feature on the endless list of things that Samsung attaches to their mobile products in order to pretend to be innovative. I hope that Oculus got something really good out of the deal.

However, I am super excited for the ability to replace your environment at-will. Also please join me for an “Activation” We’re all doing it. Please remain seated while the VR matrix takes hold. You will experience a tingling sensation as the VR spike gently pierces your cranium and then we’ll be watching Sneakers in a theater like oldsters used to  do back before the sharing economy destroyed the world.

You’ll be a little groggy after the movie ends and you return to realspace, but we’ll worship the Divine Bomb afterwards and take off our masks to reveal that we’re really irradiated monsters to the camera. It’ll be fun!