Time Unloads Full Clip Into VR's Chances for Mainstream Acceptance

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Jeff

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Edited By Jeff  Staff
No Caption Provided

I first saw Palmer Luckey's Time cover when professional Hit Detector N'Gai Croaltweeted it out this morning and here were my first thoughts, in order.

  • Oh no.
  • Oh damn it.
  • Oh no!
  • Oh, they're killing this thing before it's even getting started.
  • But Palmer's so amazing!
  • How could anyone involved let VR get represented this way before the hardware is even out?
  • Fuck!
  • Shit!
  • Why?
  • Wait, is this some kind of fake cover joke?

At that point I went over to Time's website and saw the image there, officially. Fuck, man. Wow.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is an incredibly inspiring dude. I've really enjoyed interviewing him on our E3 live shows and seeing him speak about the potential for VR is positively infectious. You start to believe that this can all happen and be real and mainstream and big and world-changing when you hear him speak about it. Hell, after hearing him profess his enthusiasm about Smash Bros., I was even ready to give that another shot. But this Time cover. Wow wow wow.

Say what you will about the relevancy of a print magazine in 2015, but Time is still going to reach the mainstream in a very real way. It'll peer out from newsstands as people walk past. The oldsters who don't bother keeping up with whatever "the kids" are into these days might see it. And this could be their first pre-release look at modern VR. A dude, Photoshopped up in the air, shoeless, kind of pretending to... fly? Flutter? On some kind of beach or something?

When you try it for yourself and talk to the people out there involved in building some of the first consumer-focused VR experiences we'll see over the next 12-18 months, it's inspiring. It's real. It's believable. When I look at this image, all I can think is "man, this whole thing is over before it even started." You'd like to think that someone involved in the process of making all this happen might've stepped in and said "hey, I get that we want to convey something about surprising joy here, but maybe we can find a less insane way to get that across. One that doesn't make all this look like some kind of fucking New Age cyberhippie beach fantasy land for complete lunatics?" Is he trapped on the island from the end of Neuromancer or something?

The tech works and the content is coming. But getting a wide audience to try, understand, and even embrace VR is already an uphill battle. Obviously one magazine cover won't sink virtual reality's commercial viability. But this image probably ain't helping.

I'm going to take a few deep breaths and maybe go and actually read the article that goes with this image and... yeah. Wow.

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Naoiko

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Oh...oh my goodness. I guess the cards are on the table now. Let's see where they fall.

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simguard

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HA!

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trelongxferris

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Worst cover of all TIME.

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UnInvincible

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I think this is a bit of an over-reaction, but yeah, that photo is god-awful. It could still be the awful photoshop but have Palmer holding his half-moon controllers and it'd be infinitely better, at least then it'd look like he's actually playing a game.

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Homelessbird

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#7  Edited By Homelessbird

What are you guys talking about? Andy Milonakis looks like he's having a great time.

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trucksimulator

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Right on, Jeff.

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Pixeldemon

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#9  Edited By Pixeldemon

I agree this cover is parody-grade. However, let's not overstate Time magazine's influence on VR's target market.

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rainmaker395

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This is a pretty terrible cover and I really am scared of what the mainstream is going to think based off of this.

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ShaunK

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This was a great read. I hope that the staff is willing to do more articles like this because it is interesting to me to hear more about their opinions on things through a print format.

Also, I did not realize that Luckey was so young.

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DriveupLife

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He looks like an introverted engineering major on spring break.

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Jpope

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Oh no!

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mtfikhan

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Palmers 22??? I knew he was young but I thought he could rent a car.

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ghost_cat

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Yeah, I saw it and couldn't believe my eyes either. Wouldn't the engineers give their own advice for conveying VR the best way possible for the cover, and that advice would be taken seriously? Or maybe this was the advice from an engineer or two? WTF indeed.

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zombie2011

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#16  Edited By zombie2011

The wording makes the article seem like it will be a positive take on VR, but yeah the picture!

What is that pose? is he meant to be flying? if so why is the background a beach? Should have just been Luckey in a suit facing forward holding or wearing the Rift. The suit would have been a nice contrast to VR since i assume most Time readers would think of games as sort of childish.

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Baal_Sagoth

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Excellent article! This newest GB editorial revamp has been a huge success so far. I love it.

In a way that cover is actually pretty "authentic": weird nerd guy being awkward and dreaming of changing the (digital) world. But, yeah, it's not selling the concept very effectively.

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Krakn3Dfx

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Clearly an homage to the great one.

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M0nkEY

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This is great!

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Milkman

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VR is something that never really interested me. Being shut off from the real world to that degree is something that scares me, to be honest. Frankly, I've kind of been rooting for it to fail a little bit because I'm envisioning this future where all games are VR. (I know that's a irrational, silly thing to worry about and there's always gonna be games without VR, even if the technology takes off.) But even I can recognize that this is a disaster. Any normal person that looks at this cover is gonna laugh at it and think it's some nerd bullshit, especially with the common perception that already exists that people are just gonna use this technology to fuck cartoon characters.

I don't think VR is doomed or anything but it's such a hard sell to most people who never get the chance to have a hands-on experience and this will definitely not help.

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sir_tonk

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@krakn3dfx: There ya go, was gonna ask why Will wasn't on the cover.

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leejunfan83

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Excellent article! This newest GB editorial revamp has been a huge success so far. I love it.

In a way that cover is actually pretty "authentic": weird nerd guy being awkward and dreaming of changing the (digital) world. But, yeah, it's not selling the concept very effectively.

Excellent article? What point did Jeff make?

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falconer

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They would have been better off using literally any of @willsmith 's pictures from Tested.

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Sogeman

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emfromthesea

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I like the cover. Maybe not the what I'd use to appeal to a mass market, but it's ridiculous in a way I find endearing.

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GRIMREEFZ

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I like the cover.

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s-a-n-JR

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#27  Edited By s-a-n-JR

Wow. Well...maybe they're trying to not make it look like it's something exclusively for tech nerds? I can see my dad looking at that cover and thinking "well that looks...interesting..".

Maybe we're underestimating how much the mainstream eats up this type of crap. I don't know.

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zigx

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What bothers me more than just the cover photo chosen is the way the preview article is written on Time.com. http://time.com/3986185/virtual-reality-headset/

I would like to think that we as a society are past the point of having to qualify "nerds" so as not to outright dismiss them. However, when your copy starts with "He’s cheery and talks in normal sentences that are easy to understand." and includes joking about the lowest hanging fruit, Dungeons and Dragon, it appears we are not and maybe never will be.

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vikingdeath1

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This wasn't what it was like at all when I tried the Oculus!

That photo is Hilarious.

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csl316

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That's truly a wonderful headline.

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Rincewind

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I want you to pose like a bird, like a big dumb bird.

Perfect Lucky.

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cornbredx

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I agree that cover is awful.

You are maybe over selling it's damage a bit, though. Despite that stupid picture the VR they've created is legitimate. I just can't believe that is something that will just go away because of one bad picture on the cover of Time.

I mean, let's be fair. Palmer Lucky is kind of new to all of this stuff. He's going to make a few mistakes. I suspect next time he'll (hopefully) be more apt to step in and be like "We need a cover that takes this more seriously ya'll. This is stupid."

I mean, The Rift is owned by Facebook and one of the perks of that is one bad cover isn't going to make them go away or lose attention. They can get that back if they need to.

As for the mainstream I suspect VR will be much like console growth in the late 80s. Big tech nerds and kids will get into it first, and grow a following. They'll tell other people that don't care to follow this stuff, and it will grow over time from there.

As long as it is as legitimate as everyone I've read says it is I am highly optimistic. People will talk, and Facebook understands it could be a long haul- which is a smarter way to approach this tech than a quick cash grab.

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hassun

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#33  Edited By hassun

It's a bad cover but this twitter outrage/panic seems to be blowing it way out of proportion if you ask me. I'm more interested in the actual article. Does the TIME cover even hold all that much weight these days? (Outside of their person of the year thing.)

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hippie_genocide

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Eh, it's a cover, nothing more. Just there to grab people's attention and is not necessarily indicative of the content of the article. Getting more people informed about what VR is in 2015 can only be a good thing for the future success of that technology, right?

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Baal_Sagoth

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@leejunfan83: What do you mean? The text is under that section of the site. Should I call it an "editorial"? I mostly meant to say that I enjoyed this text by Jeff quite a bit just like a lot of the written content since Austin arrived.

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BelowStupid

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#36  Edited By BelowStupid

There is no real legitimate way to make someone think that VR doesn't look like "some kind of fucking New Age cyberhippie beach fantasy land for complete lunatics," because that's exactly what it is. Grandma can look at me playing wii sports and she gets it, Grandma seeing me with a tv strapped to my face just looks like the most concrete example of "the kids" losing their collective souls to technology, if she can even comprehend what the fuck I'm wearing.

VR will eventually be a big deal just like smart phones, but just like smart phone it will take a ton of companies and hundreds of billions of dollars crashing against society to make it stick.

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Mister_V

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Do you think they had initially wanted a different backdrop but Palmer Luckey turn up without any shoes on? He seems like a guys who doesn't wear shoes.

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Fox

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The sad thing is most people won't do what you said and bother with actually reading the article but simply judge the entire VR concept based on that cover. Which as you said reaches MUCH more people than the actual content inside.

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#39 MattyFTM  Moderator

I saw that on twitter and assumed it was a fake joke cover. It didn't even cross my mind that it could be real. But it's real. Goddamnit.

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Anobix

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wow, that cover is terrible. I'm not exactly sure how I would show it (as everyone says it is something that has to be experienced), but that's just embarrassing.

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Hameyadea

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Time (pun intended) until the "mainstream media" will associate Virtual Reality with Virtual Porn in 3... 2... 1...

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They forgot the motion blur on Palmer.

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SleepingLesson

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Magazine.

No, I'm not referring print media, I mean the ammunition-containing firearm part that Jeff is erroneously referring to as a "clip."

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This would have worked so much better.

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Besetment

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Time magazine is still a thing?

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s-a-n-JR

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@cale said:

From the article:

No Caption Provided

Good stuff.

What.

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Zefpunk

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#49  Edited By Zefpunk

@milkman said:

VR is something that never really interested me. Being shut off from the real world to that degree is something that scares me, to be honest. Frankly, I've kind of been rooting for it to fail a little bit because I'm envisioning this future where all games are VR. (I know that's a irrational, silly thing to worry about and there's always gonna be games without VR, even if the technology takes off.) But even I can recognize that this is a disaster. Any normal person that looks at this cover is gonna laugh at it and think it's some nerd bullshit, especially with the common perception that already exists that people are just gonna use this technology to fuck cartoon characters.

I don't think VR is doomed or anything but it's such a hard sell to most people who never get the chance to have a hands-on experience and this will definitely not help.

COMPLETELY with you there on VR being scary. I think it's funny when Jeff jokes about being all into plugging in and cutting himself off, but I am seriously scared that if VR is as big as everybody says it is we are at the tipping point of just completely isolating ourselves as a society.

Already we go out to restaurants and just see everyone in their phone. Or I even sit with my loved ones and cannot get them to look me in the eyes half the time because they are staring at a screen of some sort. I know my fears are a little overblown, but that doesn't mean this isn't worth mentioning.

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TwoLines

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Yikes, that is... that's not lookin' great.

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