You may remember Tupac’s hologram. Some have nitpicked that it wasn’t technically a hologram, but whatever you want to call it, a projected image of Tupac Shakur appeared at Coachella in 2012 and performed music in front of an adoring crowd. It was a big, newsworthy event, made all the more special for hip-hop fans because it apparently came about because Dr. Dre wanted it done.
It’s been five years since the infamous hologram graced the stage, and people are still talking about it. There have long been hopeful rumors or questions about the holographic Tupac returning to action, and people have wanted to apply the technology to other artists as well. However, as a recent article at The Undefeated made clear, the people behind it have made clear that only Tupac’s estate has access, and the performances are done. But that doesn’t mean music fans might not be able to experience artists who have passed away in other exciting ways.
As you can tell from the title above, I’m talking about virtual reality. Generally speaking, we think of VR as a means of adapting existing gaming genres for close-up entertainment, and that is indeed where much of the development activity is focused. But there’s one early version of VR that gives a hint as to what it could mean with regard to concert performances.
Of all things, I’m actually talking about digital table games. Specifically, blackjack, poker, and roulette had already been given a significant boost in realistic quality before VR headsets began to emerge to the public. They did so by utilizing “live dealer” technology to provide online and mobile gamers with feeds to actual casino environments. There they could enjoy games hosted by professional dealers, which is to say they could essentially have a video chat to the dealers built into the online table games.
This is not exactly how a musical performance would work, of course, given that the whole idea with these table games is to gain access to living, breathing characters. However, the fundamental idea of live dealer gaming is to provide the sense of a realistic environment, made all the more special through the presence of a relevant figure. In full-fledged virtual reality, the same thing could be accomplished with a concert stage. Instead of simply watching a video of a concert that once happened, we’ll be able to slip on VR headsets to transport ourselves to concert venues, where musicians could be performing as if they’re actually right in front of us.
There’s not too much specific information out there just yet about VR experiences like this being designed, though it’s been suggested here and there. But given the incredible artists we lost in 2016 alone, people ought to have an appetite for this sort of thing. It would be a nice way to pay tribute to some of those artists, and would allow their fans to experience their talents in the most intimate way possible.