Virtual reality wants to rule video games. Here’s who will rule VR


By Ian Sherr and Roger Cheng

Some of the greatest rivalries have come out of the video game industry: Midway’s Space Invaders against Atari’s Asteroids. Nintendo’s Mario versus Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog. Microsoft’s Halo against Sony’s God of War.

Now the next great battle for leadership of the video game industry is starting. And it’s between companies most people have never heard of over a technology few have even tried: virtual reality.

In the past year, nearly every major tech company has announced or hinted at plans to take real steps into the emerging market for VR, which immerses goggle-wearing users in three-dimensional worlds — and often feature gee-whiz graphics tied to the hottest games. Facebook surprised the industry with its $2 billion buyout of VR headset maker Oculus in March 2014. Google unveiled its “Cardboard” VR headset for smartphones. Apple filed and was awarded a patent for VR technology.

But the competition is likely to be fiercest between two camps: Facebook’s Oculus and video game developer Valve, which has teamed up with smartphone maker HTC. The companies are poised to be among the most influential in the market, and they’ve both set their sights on the same potential customers: gamers who plan to use VR on a computer.

The stakes are high. Whichever company establishes itself as the go-to VR device maker could take control of a potential $7 billion market, attracting not only those customers but also software developers needed to create the compelling apps that draw in even more users.

Or they could establish separate fiefdoms, each with its own loyal following of customers and software developers.

The rise of the Internet police


By Ian Sherr


Anisha Vora became the victim of “revenge porn” after her ex-boyfriend posted her photos to more than 300 websites.

Anisha Vora remembers when she first realized something was wrong.

It was February 2012, and the then-22-year-old student learned that photos showing her naked or partially clothed were circulating on the Internet. The culprit was an ex-boyfriend she’d dated on and off for four years and had known since childhood.

Photos she’d sent him during their long-distance relationship were soon posted on more than 300 websites, including Tumblr, Flickr and Facebook, and her friends, family and neighbors were invited to view them. Some of the posts gave her name, address and phone number. Strangers were coming by her house.

Online harassment isn’t new. From the earliest message boards to the newest social apps, if there’s a way for people to say something, you can bet someone will say something awful. But it’s gotten even worse. Those operating in the shadows can now connect to billions of users through Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, and disseminate racist and hate-filled messages. Some publish disturbing images of murder, child exploitation and sexual abuse while others resort to so-called revenge porn to humiliate former lovers. Perhaps most distressing: A few threaten rape and other forms of violence, then release their victims’ addresses and phone numbers so strangers can terrorize their targets even further.

“Dangerous people are everywhere, but when they have the power of anonymity behind them and the power of distance, they become more dangerous,” says Karen Riggs, a professor of media arts and studies at Ohio University. “It’s part of human nature: We have people who will be abusive and lurid.”

The Internet just makes it that much easier.