Watch Palmer Luckey and Penn Jillette Explain the History of Virtual Reality

New documentary series 'Unlocked' explores everything from video game violence to esports

Watch Palmer Luckey and Penn Jillette Explain the History of Virtual Reality
Credit: Mediajuice Studios

Sean Astin, William Shatner, Kevin Smith and Zelda Williams are just some of the stars who take a deep dive into the past, present and future of games in the new series Unlocked, which just launched on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Steam.

The clip above shows the the kind of depth you can expect from the new show. In it, embattled Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey explains the history of virtual reality with magician Penn Jillette, tracking its origins back to the early 1800s and the notion of 360-degree panoramic paintings, and how this eventually led to stereoscopic photos, the Viewmaster photo viewer in the Sixties and eventually the development of modern head-mounted displays like the Rift. 

The series is the work of Jeremy Snead, who wrote and directed the 2014 documentary Video Games: The Movie, and his goal with it has been to tackle topics around games that are often misunderstood or misrepresented. Through its eight 45-minute episodes, Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed touches on the whole culture of games.

"It's easy from the media's point of view that when anything that has to do with gaming that makes the headlines – whether it's a new game release or a documentary series on gaming – to pull up all these clichés and knee jerk reactions, whether that be that gaming is violent or a time waster, or addictive," he says.

"I think the easy path would have been to say 'well let's not go there because it's just well-trodden and everybody know that those are moot points,'" he says.

"But everyone doesn't know, and if you're trying to reach a wider audience, then you do have to go there. Someone who might only hear something about gaming a couple of times a year, they're going to go back to those knee-jerk reactions because it's been pumped into the cultural psyche for so long, for a couple of generations now. There isn't that balance."

He says it would have felt disingenuous for him to skip over any of these difficult topics. He also notes that the show isn't a spiritual successor to his first film, which was primarily a celebration of the culture, but an attempt to change the conversation.