Last night something awesome happened for VR – and no, I’m not talking about Samsung announcing the release of the Gear VR in December (although that too was decidedly awesome). Rather, last night, virtual reality – and Oculus Rift in particular – received the “South Park bump.”
The episode, entitled “Grounded Vindaloop,” centers around Butters – whom Cartman has convinced is living in a virtual reality. The episode starts simply, Cartman playing a prank on Butters convincing him he is wearing an Oculus (which is actually, hilariously, a pair of ski goggles with the word ‘oculus’ on them), prompting Butters to run around school saying “Whoa! Its so real!” all to Cartman’s amusement.
But, this being South Park, we know the silliness didn’t stop there. It was a wild episode in which Butters gets stabbed and Matt Stone and Trey Parker gloriously lampooned aspects of customer service, Total Recall, The Matrix, and Inception all while leading the boys – and ultimately us – to question what is reality.
With the release of the Oculus Rift only “months away,” it is encouraging to see it penetrating popular culture already. Just how big was this appearance for virtual reality’s awareness? Last night’s South Park was watched by over 1.7 million viewers and that is not including those who will watch it later on online. Additionally, according to social analytics site Topsy.com, tweets about Oculus spiked by 600% yesterday during, after and leading up to the episode, with “virtual reality” and “VR” also seeing a bump.
This kind of buzz can only be seen as positive for virtual reality, as the public awareness campaign for it ramps up in the coming months. It’s clear that Matt and Trey are as pumped about VR as we are, and that’s great for all of us.
What did you think about the episode?