Augmented Reality is the new Virtual Reality (and also the new regular reality)

Week In Gaming

"Ooooh, Oculus Rift," says General Public Member Number One. "It's so cool, and when i put it on my head, I feel like my head is twice the size. That means I have more brains."

"Yes," agrees General Public Member Number Two, sipping daintily from a china cup. "I like the way I walk into walls when I am wearing it, and also how I stood on my cat that one time. It reminds me that I am in another world! Teehee!"

And that's where I step in, knocking aside their china cups, causing their monocles to pop cartoonishly from their widened eye sockets. I inform them that Virtual Reality is soooo last year, and they nod gratefully as I orate on the virtues of Augmented Reality and how it's clearly at least a billion times better. Then I stomp on their china cups for good measure, and go off to spread the word amongst the people. Such is my life.

Virtual Reality is cool, don't get me wrong - but VR has been around for ages, and just like your parents and the acronym "lol", it's just not cool anymore. It had its time. Augmented Reality makes me go "oooh" in ways VR never did - whether that's the simplistic photo mode on the 3DS which plonks your favourite Nintendo characters onto your desk, hand or face, or something way more complex like Xbox's E3 presentation of Minecraft on Hololens. VR is basically just a first-person game inside your face; AR is magical technological WIZARDRY.

The reason it's so much better (I suppose I should say this is my personal and incredibly subjective view, but I'm definitely right, oh yeah) is that it weaves reality and virtuality together, just like we always have done in our minds. Even the word is cool. AUGMENTED. It means "made better", and it does make everything better: Hololens magician Kudo Tsunoda used it to recreate his son's drawing, medical professionals can use it to actually see body parts without having to have a dead person to prod around in, and you can make Pikachu sit on your hand, which is basically society's greatest achievement to date.

One of the reasons AR is on my mind at the moment is Pokemon Go, which is single-handedly proving that Nintendo know what its doing with their new mobile game division, and they aren't just going to make free-to-play Mario games. Pokemon Go is a location-based AR Pokemon game, and if that doesn't make you all tingly like you've just rubbed minty shower gel into your bits, then I'm afraid I can't help you.

Just to summarise: Nintendo is making a Pokemon game that takes place in the real world. Picture this: you're sitting on the tube, and all the commuters around you are moping in their sweat-stained seats, eyes glazed as they attempt to read the news story about Rita Ora's new bum tattoo. You get your phone out of your pocket, and the world's most depressing tube ride turns into a magical fantasy zoo filled with electric mice and small flammable dragons.

Augmented Reality will augment life. Sure, it's not perfect yet, and I don't doubt that even Pokemon Go will have some horrific stories like Bulbasaur climbing out of a toilet or Caterpie being projected into porn, but it's not hard to imagine AR being a cornerstone of society in a couple of decades - just like all those sci-fi movies predicted. I'm excited. Life could always do with a little bit of augmenting.