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Verizon Did Some Cool Shit

I saw this video by SethBling (above) today and while it’s not vastly exciting or landmark it demonstrates an interesting concept with games, technology, and communication. Before I get into it, CaptainSparklez also made a companion video, and Verizon made a Press Release on this

Quick Video Description

Two popular Minecraft personalities (SethBling and CaptainSparklez) partnered with Verizon to make an operational phone in Minecraft. The phone connected to Verizon’s cellular network to send texts and place a video call to the real world from Minecraft among other things. SethBling made a video call to himself to show how it all worked at first. On the receiving end it displays the character in Minecraft and sound from the caller’s microphone. In Minecraft, the video call feed is displayed using Minecraft blocks (and so looks very blocky) but is intelligible and responsive. SethBling then placed a call to CaptainSparklez to show that it indeed works over the cellular network.

What this means?

Now the technology isn’t new, VOIP and similar technologies have been around for a while now, but a demonstration like this in a game hasn’t been done before to my knowledge. But the popularity of the demonstration is the important part and shows how close modern society is to the large scale adoption of virtual reality. Virtual reality might already have been abuzz with Facebook buying Oculus and other developments among gaming but I originally organized into the VR industry echo chamber. This demonstrates how VR will eventually integrate into the general consumer society. Pairing games (an act that typically isolates us from out “real life” friends and family) with cell phones (an act that took social interactions to a tech world) demonstrates the future direction of games and how a virtual world might mesh together with the real world.

The idea is that a virtual world would not cut us off from real life activities as I (and I’m sure others) have thought it would. It might just mean the further integration of games and other digital entertainment into modern culture as it become less and less of a niche with each year. Some would find this troubling as concerns has been raised on cell phones effect on human interation but I doubt that will stop it. The concerns and others are still important (especially those about advertisement and digital security) but a lot of it might just be a better knowledge of the technology and learning to manage and balance these technological interactions.

The lines begin to blur between the virtual world and the real world. There are a few other events that came to mind when I originally stumbled upon this.

  • The release of Facerig in 2014, a solution for realistic facial animations from a webcam video.
  • Facebook buying Oculus in 2014 which seemed to legitimize the attention given to virtual reality as a social tool

If this shift in the marketplace does take place it definitely hasn’t been without its signals. I would think it would only become more natural for such oddities in communication (like Facerig) to become normal.