Arts and Culture

Technology is constantly changing our lives, and virtual reality technology is just getting started. As part of our series of conversations with speakers at this year’s IdeaFestival, I spoke recently with writer Ben Kuchera, senior opinions editor at the video game and technology website polygon.com. He’s spent the past decade reporting on virtual reality at such publications as Ars Technica, Wired, and Penny Arcade.

You can listen to our conversation in the audio player above.

On what virtual reality can bring to journalism: 

ben kucheraCourtesy IdeaFestival

Ben Kuchera

“I’ve used programs that basically take you into the cities of refugees and being able to look around at your own pace and feel what it’s like to be in these settings and hear the sounds of it. I find it so much more impactful than a standard flat video or a radio story or images. Being able to take video or build a virtual environment where it feels like you’re taking the person wearing the equipment to another place entirely — it’s just amazing. There’s really never been anything like it.”

On what virtual reality brings to the gaming industry:

“It’s a little bit hard once you get used to playing virtual reality games to go back to playing on your TV. Because when I’m playing a game on my television and I look behind me, I see my basement. Wearing a virtual reality headset, if I look behind me I see whatever’s behind me in that virtual world. You are completely wrapped up in that virtual environment and you feel like you have gone other places.”

On virtual reality and pornography:

“It’s one of those things that people are kind of hesitant to ask about or they do it with a chuckle like you just did, but everyone thinks about. It’s a huge part of human existence — is sexuality. I absolutely think it’s gonna be something where there’s a large market for it and when there’s a market for it, technology moves in that area. What it’s gonna look like and how people are gonna use it, I don’t know yet.”

Ben Kuchera will present at the 2016 IdeaFestival on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 1:30 p.m. More details can be found here.

Tara Anderson is the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the objects that tell our stories.