Diana Gagnon Hawkins Interactive Associates
Virtual reality (VR), in which users enter and physically experience computer- generated worlds, has captured the imaginations of the populance through a flurry of conferences, articles, books, movies and TV documentaries. The first VR entertainment-based systems are now commercially available and are beginning to be implemented into sites around the world.
These early technologies and sites form the basis upon a which a new form of entertainment and supporting entertainment industry will be built. This chapter discusses the history behind this new industry; lays out the various technologies, and site concepts that are emerging; and explores some of the future directions that virtual reality entertainment applications may take.
A number of trends have come together to set the stage for the emerging new field of virtual reality public entertainment. These trends arose from the commercial availability of VR systems and the changing needs of the "out-of-home" entertainment industry; combined with a growing interest in interactive content development.
VR technologies that had primarily been the domain of the military flight simulator and research lab first became commercially available for public applications in the late 1980s. At this time, VR had received a great deal of press that created a public appetite for this intriguing new media.
The technologies, however, were not yet ready to be implemented in the