From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 1 May 2014 10:54:22 -0400

I guess I'm late to this book.  It came out in 2011 and has been referenced
repeatedly (according to google) by people involved with the Oculus Rift.  I
heard of it here -
http://www.oculusvr.com/blog/introducing-michael-abrash-oculus-chief-scientist/

It's easy to see why this book appeals to someone like "Oculus Chief
Scientist".  It portrays a world in which VR is a massive monopoly that makes
a few people very rich.  If you want to be a winner in the future, you want to
be in VR.

(There are spoilers below.  But I think you'd have to be kind of dumb to not
guess them after the first chapter.)

It's also easy to see why this book has mass appeal.  It's a sweet story.
Poor boy makes good.  Beats the bad guys.  Gets the girl.

But it's also very limited and unambitious.  I enjoyed it, but when I *think*
about it, I find it depressing.

It's a paean to consumption.  The hero(es) do little except consume media and
play video games.  The kind of video games where you shoot things or complete
missions.  WoW.  Defenders.  Collosal Cave.  There's not even anything like
Minecraft here, really.

There's no real space for thinking outside the box.  For being creative.  For
jumping to a meta-level.  Again and again, as I read the book, I questioned
why everyone was so stupid, doing things in such a manual way.  Everything is
ordinary - it's just ordinary life plus a bit of spice to make the story go.
Virtual reality makes no deep change.  It's just a nicer place to buy things
in.  A nicer place to work your way up the ladder by collecting tokens.

It's amazingly limited.  Is this all that VR is going to be?  Do you remember
watching flakey videso from Alan Kay with people wandering through portals?
That's pretty much the future.  But with bad guys and manga references.

Harry Potter with 80s references for videogame nerds.  A manual on how to get
rich for the few people who define the next way to shop.  A feel-good, easy
Andrew