Electronics, Politics, Racism the US, Technology

Is the future of vr and oculus rift alt-wrong?

Mark Zuckerburg with Oculus Rift
Mark Zuckerburg with Oculus Rift

This election season has people split on both sides.  People, companies and businesses are doing things that are unprecedented and everyone is taking notice.

For example, for the first time in its 126 year history the conservative Arizona Republic endorsed a Democrat (let the death threats begin!).  Hillary Clinton, the nation’s first female nominee, this week, will make history again, in the number of conservative Republican newspapers that have endorsed her.  First it was Cincinnati Enquirer and now the AZ Republic.

But her competitor Donald Trump has his supporters as well.  A Reddit user (Reddit being the website so popular and influential some have called the “front page of the internet”) named NimbleRichMan has written posts strongly criticizing the democratic nominee even going as far as sending out a meme “too big to jail”.

But that would be one thing.  One very small inconsequential thing.  But it turns out the username is a clue to a much bigger organization as the Daily Beast uncovered.

The name “nimble” is linked to a group called Nimble America who create politically charged memes.  The group Nimble America is linked to a subreddit called /r/The Donald and that subreddit, supporting Donald Trump, can be directly linked to alt-right, anti-semitic, white nationalist, conspiracy groups.

Now what does NimbleRichman, /r/The Donald and Nimble America have to do with Facebook?  One name – Palmer Luckey.   Who the hell is Palmer Luckey?  Well, if you’re not a tech head or a programmer, the name is as significant as Alan Smithee.  But to those of us who are following what’s going on in the world of tech, there is  nothing more exiting, driving more attention and money and business interest than virtual reality.  Virtual reality, aka, VR you see, is the next big thing  in tech and entertainment.

It is so big in fact, tech companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Samsung are all jumping on the bandwagon.  What makes VR possible are “vr googles” which are like 3D glasses on steroids.

The first out the gate with these glasses was a company called Oculus VR.  The Oculus Rift VR glasses was so hot among techies, Facebook grabbed up the company right out the gate for millions(see pic above of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg with the Rift).  The company has poured additional millions into it.  And the lenses are set to debut costing hundreds (around $600) just in time for Christmas.

And guess who is the genius behind the Oculus Rift?  Nope.  Nope.  Come on…you can get it.  That’s right Mr. NimbleRichman himself,  Palmer Luckey.   Daily Beast also confirmed, Luckey donated ten grand to the alt-right racist group in the past.

In his defense, he says he is a libertarian and does not believe everything the group believes in.  Many are not buying it.

“If we set aside our individual political dispositions and view the situation as it is, it’s pretty clear that this is pretty messy. It’s not close to over and the chaos brewing in the VR and tech community will not end until there is better closure.

“Palmer, believe it or not, is one of the main faces of Oculus. This is not a good showing for the company. Especially in the eyes of the general public, let alone the enthusiasts.

“At the end of the day, this isn’t about his supporting Trump. It’s about his way of doing so. He’s a public figure. This isn’t a situation you can just ignore or regard as having a minute amount of importance. He’s a VR visionary and people looked up to him.”

What does this have to do with Facebook?  This Christmas corporate America is hoping to make a killing on VR.  Problem is, the market is already saturated with too many competitors.  Who will buyers choose?  And more importantly, who will publishers (game makers) choose to support?  The guy who supports a racist anti-Semitic group?  Or Microsoft? Or Sony (who’s new PS4 will support theirs out of the box)? Or Samsung?  Game developers are starting wonder.  Will they take sides?

According to the report on Business Insider, some developers are already declaring they will not support the Rift.  So is this the end of Oculus Rift and Facebook’s plans to make a gold mine off the VR headset? It depends if this is the iceberg or the tip of the iceberg regarding Mr. Luckey’s activities with the alt-right.

I personally think it’s doubtful.   Once the election is over almost no one will even care or remember who these groups are (unless Trump is elected and he does something stupid — what are the chances of that?).

What it’s more likely to do, is add some drag or slow the momentum on the Rift.  Ultimately its up to game developers.  If they choose to abandon the product, its game over.

 

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