An old source for new inspiration

Amazon search: "virtual reality" in Books

Amazon search: “virtual reality” in Books

Perhaps you’re surrounded by virtual reality enthusiasts. If so, you’re one of the lucky ones. For many of us, there are very few people that we can hold conversations with on the subject of virtual reality, yet alone the Metaverse. It is hard to find inspiration in a vacuum.

If you find yourself looking for ideas, you might consider the wealth of old books that are out there. They’re mostly from the 1990s. Sure, they’re a bit dated, but that isn’t all bad. You may be able to look at old ideas with a fresh perspective. Some of the old ideas have gone unreviewed, and are waiting for easy solutions and new applications.

Most of the value derived from these old titles may not be concepts that are directly pulled from the pages. They’re not going to say, “If you have a smartphone, then you might be able to use this technology and that.” Rather, they set the stage for you to think about similar problems in different ways.

Some months back, I filled a couple of shelves with virtual reality books for around $4-5 per title. Most of the cost was shipping. I located the majority of them on Amazon and eBay. If you find an interesting book in one source, try another — it may be cheaper. Also try searching for the title on Google and then clicking on the Shopping tab just under the search bar.

Here are a few more tips you may find helpful:

  • Use good search criteria. “virtual reality” seems to work the best.  “cyberspace” titles are usually newer (2000+) and more often have to do with the topic of cybersecurity. “metaverse” will likely yield books about Second Life. “virtual worlds” can be mixed. If there are good titles with “avatar” in them, you’re going to have to comb through a lot of junk to find them. Be sure to limit your search to the book category.
  • Role-playing Games don’t appear to be a great source for ideas or implementations. You’d think they’d have some concrete ideas of how things might appear or be structured in the Metaverse. I went through a number of these, like GURPS Cyberpunk and Shadowrun titles. I really didn’t see much that was useful. In fact, these types of books probably aged far worse than anything else I acquired.
  • You probably want to avoid books that include a CD or are focused on coding (unless you’re writing a 3D engine from scratch). These will be badly dated. The only exception may be the titles on 3D positional audio, which have made little advance since the 1990s.

Is anyone else purchasing old books on virtual reality and the Metaverse? What have you found?

DISCLAIMER: I have no known relationship to any of the books mentioned other than having loaned or purchased them.

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One response to “An old source for new inspiration”

  1. 1k0nX says :

    As an audio engineer and indie VR developer I can recommend Begault’s ‘3D Sound For Virtual Reality and Multimedia’ as a good introduction to true, 3D positional audio, which I believe will be important for achieving presence. Although it was written in 1994, it still remains relevant as the author mentions above.

    ‘Designing Virtual Worlds’ by Richard Bartle – though focused on gaming – holds up for me because it takes a higher view of building and maintaining virtual communities.

    Finally, I completely agree with this post’s admonition to search for used books on eBay & Amazon. I have bought 15+ books over the last year concerning VR (3D modeling, coding, etc.) – most of them for just $4 – $10!

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