An Open Letter to Game Developers & the Makers of the Oculus Rift

You're off to a really promising start with this demo, please continue to imagine the possibilities both in, and outside of, the gaming industry
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Hey there! How about that Oculus Rift? Sure, there have been immersive headset peripherals before, but the buzzstorm around this project is impressive, and it’s capturing the minds of gamers and developers everywhere in an unusual fashion. 

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That being the case, I have a request for the team behind the headset, and for the developers who are feverishly imagining what they want to create for it. And it may sound a little odd coming from me.

Don’t just make this about games.

You’re off to a promising start; one of the first demos released was the (now famous) 90 year old woman taking a virtual Tuscan tour. That gives me a lot of hope for what the Oculus Rift will do. What you’ll do with it.

Here’s the thing though, to do that you’ll have to keep in mind the good this thing could do outside of the gaming market (where I have little doubt it will prove wildly successful if developers make games that truly capitalize on it’s capabilities). Keep that magic of inspiring a woman to want to live “to be 110 at least!” firmly in mind. That’s no small power.

For Seniors

Imagine what that could do for residents in a retirement home, some residents who may not be mobile and yearn for a few more moments outside, others who want to fulfill bucket list wishes.

Heck, there’s an Oculus Rift experience pack right there: Bucket List. Simulate the top 100 things people say they want to do while they’re alive, and donate gaming glasses and software to hospitals, hospice groups and retirement facilities. 

For Science

Imagine what an immersive 3D experience might mean in an elementary or middle school science class. What minds you would captivate with a tour through the rain forests, a journey through the water cycle, a look into simulated deep space?

How many careers might you ignite in the flagging science field through a focus on encouraging educational development for the Oculus Rift?

For Surgeons

While we’re on the topic of learning, how about 3D simulated surgery? The US is already experiencing a shortage of general surgeons – a problem that is only projected to worsen in coming years – in part due to the cost to train new surgeons. Imagine making surgery simulators more realistic and more accessible through your virtual reality glasses.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think there will be some really excellent applications in games, and gamers will clamor for them. If you went back 10 years ago and told me I could log in to Guild Wars and run around the woods with my ranger in 3D, bow in hand, watching my pet crunch leaves under paw while I searched for enemies to take down, I’d have paid ridiculous sums for that. Even now, there are fantastical, unreal worlds that I think would be amazing to experience in fully immersive virtual reality. 

Just take care not to entrance your audience so much with fantasies that you overlook the opportunity to continue to fascinate them with all the wonder that really exists. Make deliberate development partnerships and opportunities that encourage a diverse offering of virtual reality experiences from entertainment, to education, to pure joy.

I wager you’ll still make plenty of money, and plenty of good games. But I know you’ll leave the world a richer place if you keep that 90 year old grandma firmly in mind as this takes off and enters the marketplace. 

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Amy White
Former Editor in Chief at GameSkinny. I am the Gray Fox. Questions, comments, feedback? Bring it. Amy.White (at)