Virtual reality can intimidate newcomers. It’s advanced technology, and there are new announcements every day. The internet has mountains of information on VR, but it’s difficult to know where to start.
I know this because I’m a VR newb. It was only a year ago that I used an Oculus Rift for the first time. Since then, I’ve consumed everything VR-related that I can get my hands on.
Looking back, I wish I had a guide to help me get started. Something that made the information more easily digestible.
This is my attempt at assembling that guide.
I’ve called out resources that I reference time and again in my ongoing VR education, and I’ve contextualized them to make them more accessible. I hope you’ll find them as insightful as I do.
News and Commentary
Just about every technology news site reports the major developments in VR. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal create news content tailor-made for VR headsets. But for news that cuts deep into the VR industry, I recommend two outlets:
Both websites offer a wonderful blend of news, commentary, and interviews. Their readers make up a VR enthusiast community, so you can find informative conversations in the comments of each story.
But if you only read one VR article, make it Kevin Kelly’s WIRED cover story, The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup.
Kelly takes an in-depth look at Magic Leap, which is working on some ridiculously cool science. But this story is much more than your ordinary company profile. It's a snapshot of a new era of technology.
Kelly’s love for VR radiates throughout the piece. He recaps decades of VR history, succinctly lays out the landscape of VR today, and takes a hard look at what’s ahead of us. It's a long piece, but it's absolutely worth a read.
Every so often, Palmer Luckey himself contributes to the conversation on r/oculus.
If you're overwhelmed by your Facebook News Feed, you can find respite in two of my favorite VR communities: Virtual Reality andGearVR. These groups are small enough to foster meaningful conversations, yet large enough to feature a diversity of voices.
VR’s Meetup culture is another of my favorite parts of the community. Check out Meetup.com, and you’ll see that there are hundreds of VR meetups worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of members.
I’ve attended a handful of these in Seattle, and I’m in awe of how welcoming this community is. Enthusiasts from all levels of experience get together to share ideas and experiences.
Long form audio translates well to VR. With podcasts, you can hear experts and enthusiasts converse in depth about the wide range of trends and topics that impact the VR industry.
My favorite is Kent Bye’s Voices of VR podcast. Bye is doing the world a service by recording the Voices of VR podcast. He talks to everyone in the industry: business leaders, developers, users, dreamers. His archive is a treasure trove of conversations. I’d bet someday we’ll preserve these recordings in the National Archives as a historical record of the early days of VR.
These aren’t exactly VR resources, but within VR, they’re cultural literacy – shared reference points that have become conversational shorthand among VR enthusiasts.
Ernest Cline’s 2011 bestseller is primarily set in the OASIS, an immersive simulated universe that’s powered by VR. When we share our company vision, people frequently compare us to the VR gadgets described in the novel.
I hadn't heard of Ready Player One prior to my VR education, but I'm glad I read it. It's packed cover to cover with adventure, wit, and 80's pop culture. It's hard not to love this page-turner.
This is one of Jake Rubin’s personal favorites. Neal Stephenson coined the term metaverse – a virtual environment in which people interact with each other, and that has as much cultural importance as the physical world we live in.
Stephenson envisioned this over 25 years ago, but the vision holds true today. Many of VR’s top thinkers see some version of the metaverse as the future of VR.
People frequently compare the technology in this early '90s sci-fi film to AxonVR's vision of fully immersive virtual reality. It's written and directed by VR visionary Brett Leonard. Today, Brett works in virtual and augmented reality as the Chief Creative Officer at Virtuosity VR. Our team recently met with Brett, and he responded with great enthusiasm when he experienced our HaptX demo.
Meta: Resources for More Resources
My list is just the beginning. If you want the 10,000-foot view of VR, I recommend two collections of resources:
VRFavs is an excellent scan of the industry. It lists just about everything VR-related: content, devices, software, events, and much more.
This Trello Board curated by Tipatat Chennavasin gives a more company-focused view. It shows who’s who in the different categories within VR. Both of these lists will overwhelm you with the number of links they provide, and they’re constantly being updated. It goes to show how much this industry has grown, and how fast that growth continues to accelerate.
If you're new to virtual reality, this should be more than enough to get you acquainted. What did I miss? I'd love to hear your favorite VR resources. Please share them in the comments!