Culture 7 min read

Maybe a VR Future Means More Takeout

Collage by Brett Forsberg | Contributing photos from Tobik (pizza slice) | PR Image Factory (background and woman with VR headset) | Max Margarit (robot arm) |

Collage by Brett Forsberg | Contributing photos from Tobik (pizza slice) | PR Image Factory (background and woman with VR headset) | Max Margarit (robot arm) |

The future of VR will bring everything we need in life to our couches, minus food and water. Luckily, we’ve been training pizza delivery boys for decades.

Now I’ll admit, I like to stay at home. When I’m there, I don’t like to have to bother with anything, and that includes cooking and talking to people (thanks online delivery).

And apparently, I’m not alone in that.

As more and more people are opting to stay inside and just have their dinner delivered, we really have to wonder just what is keeping them from going out. There are probably many reasons, but we think video games have a lot to do with it.

Our Future: Play VR games while robot feeds you food delivered by self-driving car.Click To Tweet

That’s what keeps me from being a constantly productive member of society, as it were, and if scores of other people have taken it further than I have, video games may have affected the unemployment rate.

The pre-25 crowd is finding it harder and harder to get work, after all, and things like television and video games are a far easier pill to swallow than acknowledging your own crushing unemployment.

Now all of this makes for a nice dinner conversation, sure, but the real reason that I’m bringing all of this up is to make a rather damning prediction: This problem will become worse before it gets better.

Why do I think that? Well, gaming is on the precipice of even more awesomeness than before with the proliferation of VR gaming, and if regular video games can cause fast-food and delivery sales to rise, then imagine what adding another dimension will do.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Before you can really make the connection between VR and a whole new generation of cave-dwellers, you have to start with the delivery services.

The Rise of Quick, Online Delivery

One can only imagine the kind of parties that took place after Red Robin’s Tuesday earnings report because it was, in a word, awesome.

Or at least that’s what we heard from Jim Cramer on his show “Mad Money“, which he hosts on CNBC.

And Cramer doesn’t see that success happening in a vacuum, either. He has noticed a direct correlation between the stay-at-home economy that has been coalescing out of the Internet in the past few years and gaming.

Simply put, products like video games and social media are keeping people in their homes, and so the stay-at-home economy is steadily rising. This connection isn’t exactly proven, but there is enough evidence to make Cramer take it as an indicator of the future of Red Robin’s business.

And make no mistake, when he remarked that “We need to know if the consumer’s starting to come out of her video-gaming-playing, Facebook-watching home,” he made it very clear what he was basing his perspective on.

So, whether by video game or any other given internet-based distraction, the industry of the online delivery service is something analysts may want to keep an eye on.

It’s already changed the game for businesses like Mendocino Farms, a San-Francisco-based company that partnered with DoorDash and has had problems keeping up with delivery orders ever since.

In fact, the boom has been so important for Mendocino Farms that they are tearing down a wall at one location to make a pickup window specifically for DoorDash deliveries. You can read more about it here, and don’t miss the crazy increase in sales that they and many others are experiencing thanks to the stay-at-home economy.

Fast food, groceries, and even laundry are just a click away now, and people are happily using that capability to the delight of boardrooms all over the world. But not everything in the future is sunshine, rainbows, and profit.

Some things in the future are, well, kind of depressing; and yet, they are very important to note if you’ve got some stock in fast food or DoorDash.

Online Delivery: Staying in is the new Going out

Back in September of 2016, the Chicago Tribune wrote an article that made connections between video gaming and unemployment, and it’s sat in the back of my mind ever since.

See, Cramer might think that video games are good motivators for the stay-at-home economy, and they may very well be, but there is a darker side to that trend which we should probably all be aware of.

The world is harsh, and it chews up and spits people out daily. By contrast, video games give instant satisfaction, and aside from games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, they have only gotten easier over time. Given that, it isn’t hard to imagine why someone facing the struggle of unemployment would want to retreat into a virtual world where they can, well, win.

And that isn’t just me speaking; that opinion is backed up by researchers coming out of such institutions as Princeton, the University of Rochester, and the University of Chicago, to name a few.

According to economist Erik Hurst, happiness has gone up in young men in their early adult years despite the unemployment numbers in that group that drive many of them to keep living with their parents.

And that’s just young men. We all know that there are plenty of girl gamers out there these days, and I think it’s a safe bet that they are facing some of the very same problems and are seeking the same solutions.

So young people are electing to play video games rather than go out and spend money, and that means that where gaming goes, so too may the online delivery industry.

And gaming isn’t slowing down a bit. We’re looking down the barrel of a VR revolution in gaming, and if Cramer is right, that means that the folks at Red Robin corporate must be on the edge of their seat.

Expanding the Limits of Seclusion

Ever since I tried on my first HTC Vive headset, I knew that VR was about to get big.

If you haven’t tried out the latest generation of VR yet, then you really need to. It’s hard to explain how awesome it is aside from trying to describe the ‘holodeck’ effect that you get when you go from your room to a virtual world.

The only problem I (and everyone who bought a headset) saw with VR was a lack of good content, and if you paid attention to this year’s E3 convention then you know that a solution to that problem is soon to come.

Big names like Bethesda, Sony, and Valve made some pretty big promises this year, and if they deliver on those promises then I have no doubt that they will find success in their VR ventures.

And if you were paying attention earlier, that means that more people are going to elect to stay at home in their days, nights, and potentially meaningless weekends.

Now, if you’re the CEO of an online delivery service, and you have your finger on the pulse of the video game industry, then you might want to start catering specifically to gamers, much like Arby’s does with their crafty social media ads.

But that’s just my thoughts on the matter. What do you think?

Years ago, one of our editors traveled Guatemala researching narcotrafficking. She was most surprised by the number of fast-food (Taco Bell, McDonald’s, etc) delivery boys in employment. 

She figured out that the fast-food chain created jobs that would be convenient options for low-skilled, former gang and cartel members.

Could this model of lack of skilled economic opportunities + lack of education and skills + demand for takeout = the importation of this model to the U.S.?

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William McKinney

William is an English teacher, a card carrying nerd, And he may run for president in 2020. #truefact #voteforedgy

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