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A Whole New Virtual World at Comic-Con

2 Aug, 2014 By: Stephanie Prange

Among all the ubergeek hoopla, cosplayers, stars and Hollywood marketing events at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International was a virtual player that could prove revolutionary for the entertainment business.

Oculus VR, recently acquired by Facebook, powered several virtual reality exhibits both on and off the show floor, resulting in long lines and quickly maxed-out showings. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” exhibit across the street from the convention center featured a harrowing, but exciting, virtual reality ride up an elevator to the top of The Wall. As my virtual trip had me cresting The Wall and falling I grabbed the sides of the booth cage in anticipation of a drop, a testament to the effectiveness of the product. Other properties using the virtual reality device as promotion at Comic-Con were “Sleepy Hollow,” Pacific Rim, Into the Storm and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which provided a virtual reality experience on the show floor in which you are Professor X heading into Cerebro and looking for mutants.

Each of the virtual reality experiences was short, and you did have to wear a rather cumbersome headset that I confess I didn’t have time to adjust properly. I don’t know whether longer-form virtual reality entertainment will take off anytime soon. (Witness the disappointing falloff of 3D, in part due to the need for glasses.) But I didn’t get sick looking around in the virtual world for the few moments I was there, which makes this entertainment consumer and observer eager to see more.

Getting physical for a moment, I also noticed the many booths selling discs at Comic-Con. Fox created elaborate and exclusive disc sets for the Comic-Con crowd, and even a booth in the anime biz, which has gone more digital than other parts of the industry, featured disc sets that fans were eagerly picking over. The collector seemed alive and well at the Con.

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