June 28, 2015

"VISITING THOSE WORLDS WHERE WE WON'T EVER LIVE: THAT'S THE EXCITING PART OF VIRTUAL REALITY, AND NOT RECREATING THAT WHAT WE ALREADY CAN DO"

Richard Marks, investigator for Project Morpheus at Sony's Magic Lab, explain how virtual reality can change video games

"Unlike the previous speaker, I'm a technologist with a very optimistic vision of the future", said Richard Marks before starting his morning talk in the last day of Gamelab Barcelona. The "previous speaker" was Tom Jubert (The Talos Principle), who had just talked about how the market could be perverting moral codes and how video games can destroy or save the world. Marks, director at PlayStation Magic Lab, currently working on the interaction between PS4 and virtual reality technology Project Morpheus, defended playing as a human need and, above all, the importance of interactivity: "that's what makes a game to be a game".

Marks repeated as a mantra something that writer Roald Dahl said years ago: "those who don't believe in magic shall never find it". Because of the faith in the power of magic they called his laboratory "Magic Lab": a place where they push the boundaries of what we understand as games nowadays. "Virtual reality is here", he announced, "and its challenge is you can't understand it listening to me but giving it a try". Marks predicted a future full of human connections where virtual reality will have the same social power than smartphones, and he highlighted that the main appeal of this technology is not in playing virtual football instead of playing it in real life. "Recreating the stuff you already can do is not very exciting. But giving you the opportunity to do those things you'd never do, visiting the fantasy world of the books you love or the surface of Mars: that's the exciting part of virtual reality".

Tom Jubert, the previous (and more pessimistic) speaker, was fairly speaking not a prophet of doom but a natural born agitator. Introducing different possible futures based in our present, Jubert exposed to the audience to a possible tomorrow: the one where we find new ways of telling our story being responsible of what we do, opposed to the one where we let the never morally neutral market to create our needs instead of serving them. Jubert stated clearly that our global narrative can still be saved, but he also specified that nowadays our speech is controlled by selfish, individualistic ideas  which look for the best for us. He put the controversial example of the free to play model and defined it as "that what happens when we let the market grab the reins". Speaking about his philosophical past, about Descartes and Plato, about his favorite fantasy writer (Terry Pratchett), Jubert declared that we should not belive, but simply summarize all our pieces of information in the proper way.

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