There is nothing more human than the exercise of fantasy. As we struggle through the everyday turmoil of life, we continually dream up wild scenarios that reflect our innermost wishes and desires. Moreover, throughout the majority of human existence fantasies have remained primarily in the domain of the mind; occasionally manifesting through art and fiction, but never actually coming to light.
In the twenty-first century, things are going to change.
With the advent of virtual reality and major advances in haptic technology, the most extravagant fantasies will graduate from the realm of daydream and transform into real experiences. There really are no limits in the virtual realm, so the fantasies that are being realized are quite endless. That said, here are 3 of our favorites!
Invisibility is practically a cliche of fantasy. So many fairytales involve invisibility cloaks and shields, that save heroes and reveal dark secrets. In real life, though we may wish to be invisible at times, alas we cannot hide away from the world so completely. In VR, however, there have been significant advances in achieving a state of disappearance.
In 2014 a group of Swedish scientists conducted a series of experiments using VR headsets and brushes. By placing them in a virtual space, the researchers were able to trick test subjects into feeling invisible. This study was done with the aim of exploring the psychological effects of invisibility, such as how that state might affect conditions such as social anxiety.
The results showed that a sense of invisibility lessened anxiety, but ultimately they proved that VR experiences trigger very real physical responses from human beings. Meaning, whatever fantasies we realize in VR, they will be experienced as if real by those who dare to venture into them.
If there was one thing that would make our lives easier, the ability to teleport would be it (imagine how much you could save on gas and airfare!). At this point we cannot physically teleport, but virtual reality does allow people to be present in other spaces and in real time.
Take for example the notion of virtual classrooms. Already ivy league schools like Stanford are utilizing VR software to train their athletes and allow remote students to connect with one another and their professors in virtual classrooms. All you have to do is tune in from home via VR headset, and it’s like being there in the lecture hall, taking notes as you listen to the professor speak.
Programs that allow a person to be present in a virtual classroom or office essentially enable a primitive form of teleportation. And imagine adding haptic technology to that equation. Then, not only could someone be present in a virtual space, but could also make changes in that space and feel the virtual environment responding to his or her movements, completing the illusion.
And now for the big one—having god-like powers. There is no doubt that a great part of the appeal of gaming lies in the fact that when you play a videogame, you feel as though endowed with superhuman abilities. Suddenly, in this new space, you can fly, run super fast, defeat terrifying enemies with a single blow, and just in general control the world around you as if it is yours and you own it.
Indeed, what could be more appealing than to be able to control the world around you with just the touch of a button? Most of us wish we could have more influence over what happens in the real world, and yet we find ourselves powerless far too often.
So the experience of god-like powers exists in regular gaming, and soon that same experience will manifest with a higher degree of immersion... god-like powers in VR.
There are an infinite number of worlds that can be designed as virtual space, and each of these will once again welcome gamers as gods and superhuman players. This is a critical change in the way that we live out our fantasies. Now our dreamworlds won’t just sit on a flat screen, but will come to life before our eyes, completely surround us, engage all of our senses━and we will have the ability to control these realities right there, in the palm of our hand.