Learn to Travel Through Hyperspace
How do you prepare someone for a world they’ve never seen?
Put them in it.
War games have been around for thousands of years. Only for the past 50 have they been able to do it digitally. While at USC, about five years ago, I was fortunate to see cutting-edge virtual reality research, both at the Integrated Media Systems Center and under Mark Bolas, now at the Institute for Creative Technology, and I was fascinated.
I’d been simulating the world, too, since the day I first had Legos, which then went digital in the mid-90s with SimCity, Marathon, and Total Annihilation on my family’s (ostensibly) Power Macintosh 6100/60 and my friend’s fully-loaded PCs.
Though I’ve always been fascinated with gaming’s ability to immerse for fun, it’s far from child’s play.
The physics of objects, the graphics, the dyanmics of sound, and the way you interact with and in the game are Herculean tasks, which should give pause to anyone who doesn’t look around our real world with awe.
A year or two ago, I found Portal, a game produced by Valve that blew away my conception of gaming not because it created a world indistinguishable from ours but because it created a world that challenged my very thinking about our world.
An in-game “gun” lets you place two portals wherever you’d like and walk/fall/jump through one of them to instantly appear at the other one.
It’s tough to think about. Nothing gets from one place to another instantly in the real world. Just 20 minutes into the game, however, and my mind was already thinking of ways I could use a portal in real life. Perhaps grab some food from the kitchen without leaving my desk (ha!).
Games can be far more than a diversion. From the military to post traumatic stress therapy to games in the classroom, games are a new pathway for inspiring progress and developing change in the real world. Portal represents a beginning for games that get us — the consumer — to perceive this world differently.
What would it be like to have hyperspace at your fingertips? Now you can know.