During a chat with Max Cohen, vice president of mobile at Oculus, at CES in Las Vegas last week he told us something that made us finally realise why we think that virtual reality will be a huge success.
To date, we've played many games and experienced many tech demos of headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and Gear VR, but we never quite summed up why being immersed in a space battle or sitting in a gym listening to LeBron James talk about his fitness regime was better than watching The Force Awakens at a cinema. Cohen did that for us.
"When you use VR, you build memories of being in these places," he said. "I remember sitting in theatre watching something, but I don’t actually remember being on Pandora during Avatar. Whereas, if you were on a rendered Pandora world, you’d remember being one of the Na’vi. That’s an interesting dynamic that VR unlocks."
And that's just it. Rather than give you passive or even interactive experiences that you partake in and then move on from, by placing you in the surroundings of the game or 360-degree video, you feel like you are actually there, so your memories are of being there.
In the sense of the LeBron James' documentary, that technically means you are gaining someone else's memories. The person who was there when it was shot.
Well, not quite as you don't remember wielding a strange-looking camera and taking regular tea breaks between shots, but you get the idea. It's like Total Recall - except while wearing a headset and without having to live on Mars.
Sure, you might remember that you were sitting in your own living room, using a Gear VR or Oculus Rift to have the experience, but it still goes to show how different a concept good VR is to any other form of entertainment technology.
As for the LeBron James documentary, which is available to download on the Oculus store, it could well be the start of a trend of longer video pieces made especially for the technology. Videos that place you in other locations you would never otherwise visit.
"The LeBron James piece shows that you feel like you’re really there with them in a way that has not been possible before. That was made especially for VR. There was no planned documentary, no other cameras. It was purely a VR thing. And it’s also 12 minutes and 48 seconds long," explained Cohen.
"That’s legitimate. That’s not a companion piece, that’s not a snackable thing. That is actually a documentary, a piece of art that has been made fully for VR.
"So that’s an interesting shift for where we are today against where we were last year."
Expect more to follow in the future, for sure.