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Media, Culture & Society









Virtual Reality (VR) has traditionally required external sensors placed around a designated play space. In contrast, more recent wired and wireless systems, such as the Oculus Rift S (released in March 2019) and the Oculus Quest (released in May 2019) use cameras located on the outside of these devices to monitor their physical position. Users can now mark out a physical space that is then digitally tracked within their display. Once a play space has been established, users are alerted if they come close to breaching this boundary by the visual inclusion of a grid. Should this threshold be breached, the headset display shifts to an image of the surrounding concrete environment. We contend that physical space is increasingly being incorporated into the digital space of VR in a manner that meaningfully differs from older systems. We build our argument in the following way. First, the article explores how theories surrounding VR have implicated only a limited relationship with physical space. Second, the article introduces the concept of coextensive space as a way of understanding the developing relationship between the physical, digital and concrete reality enacted by current VR systems.


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