All the kids growing up in the 90’s probably remember the magical effect words “Virtual” and “Reality” had on them. It was a mantra used by companies to sell us half-baked products and milk all the money out of our parents, while promising some immersive experience that wasn’t even possible back then. Just remember Nintendo’s god-awful Virtual Boy for the reference. How the times have changed. With Oculus Rift leaving Kickstarter uncertainty, with $2.4 million and finally going into mass production this year, every decent gamer or anyone considering themselves a sci-fi nerd had to rejoice when this first full-blown, commercially available VR headset hits the shelves in the Q1 2016. And now they have another reason, The Force itself is officially involved.
The Force is of course the company ILM Experience Lab (or just ILMxLab), formed in joint effort by Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Skywalker Sound, all of them founded by George Lucas himself. If you think that this is too cool to be true, there is much logic behind this fortunate collaboration. Oculus Rift is definitely generating much hype and now when it is finally mass produced it is threatening to become next big thing upon release. Things aren’t bad in the Lucasfilm backyard either. Although it is not released yet, we can see even from the trailers that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will reinvigorate the franchise and most certainly pass the $1 billion mark in profits. The other company involved in this collaboration, ILM, was responsible for CGI effects of this year’s Jurassic World, which proved to be a box office behemoth with a whopping $524 million worldwide opening weekend, which put to shame even Disney’s flagship franchise Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is clear that Oculus Rift will want some wind in the back by association with ILMxLab and its household Star Wars roots, while Lucasfilm and other involved companies are trying to find a new way of pushing their products further into the masses. But what exactly are they working on?
That would be Star Wars and Jurassic World themed content, including augmented reality, virtual reality, theme park entertainment and real-time cinema, which can be experienced using Oculus Rift. If you think of it as a money-grabbing ploy, you will be glad to hear that all of that content will be made under supervision of artists behind upcoming SW:TFA. Judging from presentation that surfaced online, we can see that production values will be top-notch. So far we know that you will be able to explore Tatooine with C-3PO and R2-D2 while running from Stormtroopers and take control of X-Wing, which, on paper, sounds much more exiting. What we don’t know is, will these products be available in your homes or they will be theme park exclusives and how much control “players” will have over their surroundings. Current video-game level is, for now, out of the question.
What’s left to say except – There are reasons to get excited. Although this technology is far too young for us to expect some prime products that will certainly come along the way, opportunity to experience our beloved franchises with the level of immersion like never before is always a good thing. Especially if ILMxLab stays true to the colorful Star Wars locations and beloved character scenes.