This person worked on VR and thinks it’s “bad news”

Monday, 14th July 2014 18:23 GMT By Sherif Saed

Fabian Giesen, a programmer who was contracted by Valve on two occasions to work on its AR, and later VR prototypes, has spoken out against the technology, saying that it’s “bad news.”


Giesen made those comments a while back through a Twitter conversion, and took to GitHub to explain what he meant when he said that. The email he sent to Valve to quit was titled “I Want Out.”

“With AR, there’s a variety of information display/visualization applications, all of which are at the very least interesting and could turn out to be tremendously empowering in various ways,” he began. “The endpoint of VR, on the other hand – all engineering practicalities of first aiming for a seemingly easier goal aside – seems to be fundamentally anti-social, completing the sad trajectory of entertainment moving further and further away from shared social experiences.

“So imagine a shared universe MMORPG, expressly operated by a company that *already knows all your friends*, that’s trying to maximize your engagement
(“hey, all your friends are playing right now, don’t you want to join too?”).

“Selling your attention to advertisers, and by the way, also building a detailed profile on everything you do so they can do all of this even better in the future. It’s okay, go on doing whatever you want, we just want to watch! (Through your own eyeballs if possible).”

What’s your take on the subject?

Thanks, Gamespot.



  1. powerbuoy

    “So imagine a shared universe MMORPG, expressly operated by a company that *already knows all your friends*, that’s trying to maximize your engagement
    (“hey, all your friends are playing right now, don’t you want to join too?”)

    And how in the hell is VR related to this at all? Or wouldn’t it be as bad with such an MMO if it was displayed on a normal screen?

    #1 5 months ago
  2. RPRezo

    Looks like this man is a progress-fearing idiot. Something close to his noncence could be said about most of groundbreaking technologies.

    But the important question is: who cares? He is entitled to his opinion.

    #2 5 months ago
  3. ddtd

    Did GitHub mention if Geisen was wearing a tin foil hat during the interview?

    #3 5 months ago
  4. TheWulf


    Heh. I was about to say the same thing.

    His argument appears to be: I don’t like VR because this potential thing called an massively multiplayer online game will come into existence, and it will monitor your activities as you play to both create more insidiously targeted ads and find out what addicts you so they can addict you more. It’ll destroy society and social interaction as we know it!

    But… uh. That’s been happening since World of Warcraft. To my knowledge, WoW didn’t need VR to pull that off. Just the basic human greed of suit-encrusted managers and soulless shareholders.

    #4 5 months ago
  5. Hcw87


    Never saw a single ad in WoW, dude.

    The only thing that makes WoW addicting is the social features (raiding/PVP/dungeons/guilds), nothing else. There are very few games that can implement those features as good. Wildstar comes close, but it’s not quite there yet.

    Disclaimer: I stopped playing WoW ages ago, so don’t try to label me as a brand-zombie. It will hurt my feelings and i will not sleep at night.

    #5 5 months ago
  6. salarta

    “A Twitter conversion” has me imagining some guy getting baptized through Twitter.

    Anyway, he’s right. Facebook is desperate to get people throwing personal information their way to resell, and more importantly, the Oculus Rift guys themselves started following the Facebook line immediately after they sold out. They’ve been talking about using VR to replace things you actually do in real life. Wanna go to a basketball game? They think imitating the experience with Oculus Rift is better than going to the basketball game in person. Wanna go to a movie theater? Same deal.

    The style of VR Sony’s going after is the good, beneficial kind. The goal is to aid immersion into fantasy worlds, same as any form of media. It’s to enhance video games and fictional settings. That’s unlike the Oculus Rift guys, who have actually promoted the idea of not going outside to socialize if VR is advanced enough to look “as good as real life.”

    Now, actually is a potentially positive application of VR outside of gaming, to do things like look around hazardous areas or allow someone really sick to experience the outdoors, but that’s not what’s getting promoted for Oculus Rift. What they promote is the idea of extending social networks like Facebook into consuming all potential social interaction, including normal real world things that don’t require VR.

    If Sony’s style of VR is what takes off, then we’ll be fine. It’ll be no different from TV or books or video games, simply another medium. It’s the Oculus Rift’s approach that would turn out really bad. In the unrealistic and absolute worst case scenario, if consumers actually do follow the Oculus Rift model of artificial social activity in place of real world social activity, then I can envision politicians going so far as to ban VR as a result. “The Oculus Rift is killing local business” is a very good incentive when it’s spread across an entire country.

    #6 5 months ago
  7. ManuOtaku

    Since the NSA scandal iam very wary of calling people tinfoil hat or that they are being scare without any proofs. So for what is worth is his valid opinion thay i hope it would not end being true.

    #7 5 months ago
  8. salarta

    @ManuOtaku Indeed. A lot of things that would’ve sounded like crazy conspiracy theory talk in the past turned out to be accurate in the wake of leaks. One thing that never came up as a conspiracy theory was that if the NSA wants to do it, they can use radio waves to get information off computers even if they’re offline.

    #8 5 months ago
  9. ManuOtaku

    @salarta thanks, great read man.

    #9 5 months ago
  10. Stardog

    As soon as I read the first paragraph, I thought “if this is another one of those ‘vr is a solitary experience’ assholes…”

    #10 5 months ago

Comments are now closed on this article.