Level 1 | Level 2 | Level 3 | Answers

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology with a long history. Virtual reality has been around in one form or another since the 1970s, with versions of the technology popping up in the 80s and 90s as well. There was a period of disinterest in VR technology during the first decade of the 21st century, but this changed in the early 2010s. Virtual reality made a breakthrough thanks to technological advances and in 2012, the first Oculus Rift headset was presented at E3, the biggest show for new video game announcements. Although the technology was still in its infancy, the breakthroughs allowed users to have a much better experience than ever before. Oculus was purchased by Facebook for $3 billion shortly after shipping the first Oculus Rift units. Over the next few years, other companies entered the industry and Oculus continued to push the boundaries of virtual reality by including better technology that enhanced how immersive the experience could be.

Many Oculus fans were disappointed with the sale to Facebook. The fears seemed to be unfounded as Oculus went from strength to strength by offering great products. Oculus has remained the number one VR headset company in the industry. This was further cemented with the release of the Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2. The Quest headsets aimed to introduce VR to the masses. They don’t require an expensive gaming PC to be used and they have been priced incredibly competitively. The Quest 2 was announced in October 2020 and provides one of the best VR experiences of any headset released so far. It is also being sold by Facebook for $350 which is much lower than comparable headsets. Headsets with similar features from other companies are in the $700-$1000 region. It is believed that Facebook is losing money on every headset sold to grow the popularity of the technology. However, with the announcement of the Quest 2, Facebook also revealed that a Facebook account would be required to use the device. This was the first time that Facebook had made such a requirement for an Oculus product and something that VR enthusiasts had feared when Facebook originally bought Oculus in 2014. Although Facebook had been hands-off up to that point, the announcement that Facebook accounts would be required marked a change that many enthusiasts deemed unacceptable. Although it angered some users, this requirement didn’t stop the Oculus Quest 2 from quickly becoming the most popular VR headset on the market.

Now, Facebook has announced that they plan to include advertisements in Oculus games. This announcement has enraged users who have been fearful of this type of practice happening since Facebook first bought Oculus. The first game announced to be including the new ads is a game called Blaston, a shooter game that is sold for around $10. Immediately following the announcement, angry users began ‘review bombing’ the game on various platforms. ‘Review bombing’ is when angry customers leave negative reviews on a product to drive down the rating in an effort to show their dissatisfaction with it. A few days after the announcement, the developer of Blaston announced that they had reversed their decision to include ads in the game. They said they were still looking at including ads in another game they make called Bait!, however, this is because Bait! is a free to play game.

Users are angry at what they see as the ‘Facebookification’ of virtual reality. They don’t want to see the data collecting and advertising practices of Facebook make their way to virtual reality. This is something that users have been concerned about since the original sale of Oculus. The founder of Oculus, Palmer Lucky, said at the time of the sale that he had been assured that users would not require a Facebook account to use Oculus devices and that adverts wouldn’t be included in Oculus headsets. Both of which has now happened. Users do not want to see their virtual worlds overrun with adverts like the internet currently is. VR enthusiasts see massive potential for VR in the future, from video games to instant travel and having meetings within a virtual world. Movies like Ready Player One have already been made based on the promise of future VR. Enthusiasts want VR to grow into something that provides value to people around the world and they don’t want Facebook to ruin their dream for the future of VR.

Difficult words

Disinterest (n): Not interested, lacking of curiosity.

Breakthrough (n): A sudden and important discovery/development.

Infancy (n): The earliest stage.

Immersive (adj): Feeling like one is completely surrounded by a false environment.

Unfounded (adj): Having no foundation, not based in fact.

Cemented (adj): Being firmly established.

Masses (n): A large number of people.

Hands-off (adj): Not being heavily involved.

Overrun (adj): Being spread over or occupied in large numbers.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. DisinterestA. Discovery
2. BreakthroughB. Unsupported
3. InfancyC. Crowds
4. ImmersiveD. Occupied
5. UnfoundedE. Uninvolved
6. CementedF. Surrounded
7. MassesG. Not curious.
8. Hands-offH. Established
9. OverrunI. Beginnings

True or False?

1. VR technology was only invented in the past decade.T / F

2.There has always been massive public interest in VR. T / F

3. Oculus was purchased by an International social media company. T / F

4. The majority of fans were overjoyed about the purchase of Oculus by Facebook. T / F

5. The Oculus Quest 2 is being sold at a price far cheaper than its competitors. T / F

6. There are rumours that Facebook does not make a profit on Oculus Quest 2 devices. T / F

7. Oculus users have become enraged by Facebook’s announcement to stop making VR headsets. T / F

8. ‘Review bombing’ is when hackers delete all the reviews of a product. T / F

9.The developer of the game Blaston decided to not include ads on the game. T / F

10. The founder of Oculus warned fans of the company to beware of Facebook’s changes. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. around / since / been / reality / in / Virtual / one / or / form / has / 1970s / the / another

2. to / technological / Virtual / breakthrough / a / advances / made / reality / thanks

3. company / number / has / the / in / VR headset / industry / the / one / remained / Oculus

4. on / believed / It / every / is / losing / headset / money / Facebook / sold / is / that

5. bombing’ / is / negative / on / product / when / a / leave / angry / customers / ‘Review / reviews

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio:

PoppingUnacceptableCollecting
ReversedEnragedAimed
IndustryAssuredInstant

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology with a long history. Virtual reality has been around in one form or another since the 1970s, with versions of the technology (1)__________ up in the 80s and 90s as well. There was a period of disinterest in VR technology during the first decade of the 21st century, but this changed in the early 2010s. Virtual reality made a breakthrough thanks to technological advances and in 2012, the first Oculus Rift headset was presented at E3, the biggest show for new video game announcements. Although the technology was still in its infancy, the breakthroughs allowed users to have a much better experience than ever before. Oculus was purchased by Facebook for $3 billion shortly after shipping the first Oculus Rift units. Over the next few years, other companies entered the (2)__________ and Oculus continued to push the boundaries of virtual reality by including better technology that enhanced how immersive the experience could be.

Many Oculus fans were disappointed with the sale to Facebook. The fears seemed to be unfounded as Oculus went from strength to strength by offering great products. Oculus has remained the number one VR headset company in the industry. This was further cemented with the release of the Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2. The Quest headsets (3)________ to introduce VR to the masses. They don’t require an expensive gaming PC to be used and they have been priced incredibly competitively. The Quest 2 was announced in October 2020 and provides one of the best VR experiences of any headset released so far. It is also being sold by Facebook for $350 which is much lower than comparable headsets. Headsets with similar features from other companies are in the $700-$1000 region. It is believed that Facebook is losing money on every headset sold to grow the popularity of the technology. However, with the announcement of the Quest 2, Facebook also revealed that a Facebook account would be required to use the device. This was the first time that Facebook had made such a requirement for an Oculus product and something that VR enthusiasts had feared when Facebook originally bought Oculus in 2014. Although Facebook had been hands-off up to that point, the announcement that Facebook accounts would be required marked a change that many enthusiasts deemed (4)___________. Although it angered some users, this requirement didn’t stop the Oculus Quest 2 from quickly becoming the most popular VR headset on the market.

Now, Facebook has announced that they plan to include advertisements in Oculus games. This announcement has (5)_________ users who have been fearful of this type of practice happening since Facebook first bought Oculus. The first game announced to be including the new ads is a game called Blaston, a shooter game that is sold for around $10. Immediately following the announcement, angry users began ‘review bombing’ the game on various platforms. ‘Review bombing’ is when angry customers leave negative reviews on a product to drive down the rating in an effort to show their dissatisfaction with it. A few days after the announcement, the developer of Blaston announced that they had (6)___________ their decision to include ads in the game. They said they were still looking at including ads in another game they make called Bait!, however, this is because Bait! is a free to play game.

Users are angry at what they see as the ‘Facebookification’ of virtual reality. They don’t want to see the data (7)___________ and advertising practices of Facebook make their way to virtual reality. This is something that users have been concerned about since the original sale of Oculus. The founder of Oculus, Palmer Lucky, said at the time of the sale that he had been (8)__________ that users would not require a Facebook account to use Oculus devices and that adverts wouldn’t be included in Oculus headsets. Both of which has now happened. Users do not want to see their virtual worlds overrun with adverts like the internet currently is. VR enthusiasts see massive potential for VR in the future, from video games to (9)_________ travel and having meetings within a virtual world. Movies like Ready Player One have already been made based on the promise of future VR. Enthusiasts want VR to grow into something that provides value to people around the world and they don’t want Facebook to ruin their dream for the future of VR.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Have you ever used VR?
5. Is VR popular in your country?
6. Have you ever heard of the company Oculus?
7. Do you play video games?
8. Do you think VR is the future of gaming?
9. How could VR be used in daily life?
10. Do you think VR would be good for work meetings?
11. Have you seen the film Ready Player One?
12. Do you think there are too many advertisements on the internet?
13. Have you ever noticed ‘review bombing’ online before?
14. Is it right for people to ‘review bomb’ products when they are angry at the company?
15. Would you mind seeing ads when playing games in VR?
16. Do you think fewer people will buy Oculus products if the games have ads?
17. Should games that cost money have ads?
18. Do you think this is a good decision by Facebook?
19. Would you be upset if Facebook bought one of your favourite product’s company?
20. Do you think VR is a good way to travel, especially during the pandemic?