If you’ve ever read Ready Player One, this might sound familiar.
Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs, an actor and entrepreneur who once bought a virtual asteroid for $100,000 in the online game Entropia Universe, claims that the emerging virtual reality market can create 3 million jobs. Jacobs claims he’s the “President of Virtual Reality,” a position he won in an election hosted by Entropia Universe developer MindArk. He will serve until 2020.
Jacobs plan for VR jobs revolves around the idea that teleportation will become the key way people will travel in virtual worlds. If monetized, teleporting could become a huge industry (as Jacobs describes in a lengthy infographic on his site). Jobs in VR will involve creating and maintaining teleporter systems. People will also need to defend them against “rogue A.I.”
VB Insight analyst Stewart Rogers, who watches developments in the virtual reality market, is a bit skeptical about Jacobos’ claims.
“Stating that VR will ‘create’ millions of jobs is similar to attributing job creation to Skype, Google Hangouts, or a telepresence robot,” Rogers said. “While there are currently over 299 companies helping shape the VR industry, employing over 40,000 people, I don’t see that VR will create new roles outside of those being generated to support the industry — certainly not any that wouldn’t already be created, and facilitated, via existing home-working technologies.”
This might be possible inside something like Entropia Universe, which is more of a digital world than an actual game. Entropia Universe already has an in-game economy, and players can exchange it for real money (so you can spend U.S. dollars to get virtual money, and vice versa). Still, an economy that can support 3 million jobs in VR would require a more mainstream acceptance of virtual worlds than we have now. As we start developing for VR, experiences are short and self-contained.
With consumer VR devices like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive now available, maybe we will see whole economies based around virtual worlds that could sustain a significant workforce. The magic of VR could become home to the monotony of work.