Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business, has some harsh words for the Oculus Quest 2. He's gone so far as to call it a sexual depressant, an object that's so unappealing it will prevent humans from bearing children.
VR is a prophylactic ensuring you will never conceive a child, as no one will want to get near you. (In this case, ensuring nothing gets done as colleagues won’t want to work with you.) https://t.co/RMADmvim3OAugust 20, 2021
It's a harsh, if humorous take on the world of virtual reality, one that's becoming increasingly dominated by Mark Zuckerberg's Meta. The Oculus Quest 2, now named Meta Quest 2, is the most accessible VR headset on the market. At $300, it can play a good majority of titles on our best VR games list, as well as social VR experiences like VRChat. And it can do so without being plugged in to an expensive gaming PC.
But still, it was long seen as a niche product, only for those that were into cutting edge gaming or simulation racing. But this past Christmas, videos started flooding the internet of Quest 2 unboxings and funny first experiences (opens in new tab). It's clear that Mark Zuckerberg's VR headset was the must-have gaming gadget of the season.
One particular video began circulating on Reddit of a kid opening up his Christmas gifts. The video, posted on a subreddit that we can't name as it violates our style guidelines, shows a kid frantically opening up his Christmas gift to find an Oculus Quest 2 inside. He then proceeds to totally freak out.
You can find the video here (opens in new tab). Warning: turn down the volume.
Seeing this kid screech like a mythological banshee and then proceed to "Naruto run" across the living room filled me with second-hand embarrassment and joy. I was embarrassed because I could easily see myself as that kid. But I felt happy for him as he probably experienced a level of happiness I haven't felt since I too was a kid opening up a highly desired gift.
Thankfully, no video of me engaging in such a level of hysteria exists online. But it did remind me of another viral video from nearly two decades prior, the famous Nintendo 64 video. In it, a brother and sister freak out just as much over receiving Nintendo's cartridge-based console.
And here's the thing. The Nintendo 64 was a proper mainstream gaming device. It's gone down as an important part of gaming history, bringing genre-defining titles such as Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I never really considered the Quest 2 to be in the same league as the N64. But as I continued browsing through subreddits, I came to see the VR headset graduate to the next level of mainstream. And I could tell by the number of posts complaining about kids ruining online multiplayer.
(Although Meta does not permit (opens in new tab) kids under the age of 13 from making an account, one could play games on a Quest headset using a parent's Facebook page.)
One post pleaded with parents to not let little kids play multiplayer games. In the Reddit thread, user Ok_Priority_3281 (opens in new tab) said kids are "usually toxic, annoying and stupid."
In another Reddit thread, user johnnydaggers (opens in new tab) claims that kids have made using apps such as Echo Arena and VRChat downright caustic, insisting he would sometimes find himself "surrounded with kids spewing racism, sexism, sexually explicit conversations, etc."
"I suspect it's due to a mix of immaturity crossed with anonymity and a sense of disembodiment while inhabiting a virtual avatar," said user johnnydaggers.
In fact, johnnydaggers went so far as to make a post on Oculus' User Voice forums (opens in new tab) adding suggestions on how the platform can deal with mass adolescent toxicity.
As frustrating as it might be for Quest 2's early adopters, the cat is out of the virtual bag. During Black Friday, the Quest 2 was a top-selling item on Amazon. Retailers like Best Buy had Quest 2 headsets stocked to the ceiling (opens in new tab). Any recent flood of toxic kids and teens into VR spaces is indicative of how far Meta has been able to push VR into the mainstream. At this point, no level of online pleading with parents will help control the influx of young'uns craving the tiniest smidges of agency afforded to them. And let's face it, parents probably want a break from some of those kids too.
Much to the chagrin of Professor Galloway, the Quest 2 has gone mainstream. Whether it will lead to a birthrate crisis two decades from now remains to be seen.