In the modern age of gaming we are in our eighth generation of gaming consoles, with Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo putting up the console war against each other. But here enters a new challenger, no it isn’t PC master race, it’s Virtual Reality Gaming. Oculus is known for its Oculus Rift, if you recall an article I wrote a few weeks ago for E-Week showing off our club to the community, I mentioned that Dr. Shepherd was displaying his Virtual Reality “Pac-Man.” The idea of being able to experience the action from a first person view as if you were right in the action sounds cool, it sounds like the future. However, it’s simply too good to be true, many people have said it hurts their eyes and can cause headaches. I think that the idea of Virtual Reality is perplexing, but I’m going to see if the pros of it out-way the cons of it.
When someone first showed me the Oculus Rift, I was filled with both excitement and a worry. The first gaming application that came to mind was one of Nintendo’s biggest flops, the Virtual Boy, the gaming system that had you look into an LED eyepiece that displayed a 3D game. The main problem with this gaming system was that many of the side effects from playing it are the temporary loss of the color red from your vision and headaches, making this system pretty unsafe to use. Although it is twenty years later after they discontinued it, and our visual technology has vastly improved since those days, but I still think the idea of having a monitor so close to your eyes can’t be good for your eyes and could still probably cause headaches. Is this technology going to have the same unfortunate demise as the Virtual Boy? Nowhere near as likely, but it is still a possibility to me.
When a fellow student showed me her new Samsung Gear VR, it looked cool, but still I couldn’t help but to see problems with it. The layout included having the actual Gear VR piece to look like a set of goggles, and using a Samsung smartphone to provide the display, and having the phone screen quite close to your face when using it. Every time I see someone use one it makes me think about that old saying “Don’t sit too close to the TV or it will ruin your eyes!” Granted our screens don’t emit radiation anymore, it can still provide eyestrain regardless, having to focus on a screen so close to your face. After looking at the warnings that companies such as Samsung and Oculus give out, such as eyestrain and to not use heavy machinery, which are common sense kind-of things, but people don’t read the safety manuals. I’m not saying that VR sucks, but I’m simply saying that the risk is still there.
Like I mentioned earlier, Dr. Shepherd made a Virtual Reality “Pac-Man” game that used the Oculus Rift as the controller, so of course there is a gaming aspect that we could talk about. I would love a VR Skyrim, Legend of Zelda, or Tekken game where you were thrusted into the world of the game, as would many gamers. VR would take first person shooters to a new level of immersion of the environment, it would take fighting games such as Tekken and Street
Fighter and make it feel more as an epic battle. But of course this technology wouldn’t work on all games, while VR makes first person games much better, third person games wouldn’t need it. Since third person is obviously the spectator point of view, it just doesn’t feel like it is needed. So overall, VR would be cool for first person games, but kind of pointless for third person.
Am I saying VR is bad? That isn’t what I’m saying, but I think that the hype is just a little too much. Sure the gaming possibilities would be very interesting, but I still see a connection between VR gaming and the Virtual Boy, which is why I haven’t fully embraced the concept. I want a little more research into the side effects of it, if people I know personally are getting headaches, nausea and eyestrain I don’t want to have to deal with it myself. Perhaps it is a fad in gaming, maybe it isn’t, but it will definitely be a nice tool to look into for first person game design.