The first 3D experience I remember was Sega’s 1991 LaserDisc interactive movie arcade game, Hologram Time Traveler at the Whistler Village arcade in the early 1990s.
Our family made annual spring break trips to Whistler back then and the village arcade was something I looked forward to every time.
I was too young to be interested in the village’s bar scene but old enough for my parents to let my older brother and me stay out as long as we wanted.
Most importantly the arcade had games I had never seen or heard of back at the Wunderland nickle arcades in Portland, Oregon.
As for Time Traveler, I only put coins in a few of times to play myself. It was really expensive (like either $1 or $1.50 per game which is something like like $30 in 2022!) so it meant not getting to try a lot of other great games.
It was also very difficult to get beyond the first couple levels of Time Traveler. You just kept dying as you failed to to memorize and execute the required control sequences.
To anyone else who experienced Time Traveler back then, it would come as no surprise that the same game designer also created the Dragon’s Lair series with Don Bluth.
Now Dragon’s Lair 2, was also at Whistler Arcade. (It was a fancy resort town) but that game was much more popular. In that game Lair you could seemingly play as a cartoon on a large television screen. It was unreal.
But even as a thirteen-year-old video game “enthusiast” these titles didn’t have the game play to hold up.
You could watch the attract mode enough loop and see the foibles of so many people and realize no matter how cool they looked the technology did not support much of anything beyond expensive novelty.
Any sense of immersion they might have offered fell away as the practical limitations of their game play were realized.
Thirty years later we are on the verge of the first major computing platform jump since the smartphone: Virtual Reality, (VR), Augmented Reality and Extended Reality (XR) experiences delivered in the first headsets with actual adoption.
I’ve been using an Oculus Quest 2 for several months now, and been tracking the open secrets framing Apple’s forthcoming headset release.
It is clear to me that XR/VR/AR is not like the expensive novelties of LaserDisc arcades but actually represents a major step in our potential.