Has Virtual Reality Gaming Become Fun?

Virtual reality (VR) is seen by many as the obvious continuation--or at least one of many continuations--for the video game industry. The dream is an immersive experience that gives you a first-person view of the world as if your head and eyes were that of the character, but there have been a few challenges to making it work. Oddly enough, graphics aren't the main sticking point; even a terribly-designed world can be enjoyable if the sights of VR could match up with the sounds and controls. Here are a few obstacles for virtual gaming fun, and ways that you could push your idea into quality production:

The Immersion Challenge

Immersion is a term that is thrown around in lots of games, but there are multiple levels that work for different players. There is an elite that yearns for the deepest immersion, where they're able to forget that they're playing a game most of the time. Then there's "close enough" immersion, where the knowledge of game mechanics and techniques are obvious, but it's still fun.

The problem is that the lowest rung of immersion alienates the most people. Many casual VR game players who aren't deep into being pulled into a game world will still want something that is decent to look at and experience. This can be ruined if the controls don't match up with what's happening, or if it's too hard to stay connected to the game world.

A "connection" is more than a few cables or an internet connection to an online game server. Does the VR system use a headset, and is it awkward to wear? Does the weight of it hurt the neck, or is it so tight that it hurts the player's face? Are there limits to where you can go with the VR headset, and how much do those limits matter with the specific game?

Examples In Practical VR And Wishful Thinking

VR gaming has been around for a few decades, but not nearly as accessible to households as it is now.

The Virtual Boy was one of the earlier home consumer VR systems, and despite its graphics limitations, it was still a fun experience for many. The downside was that the headset was heavy, so a tripod was used. People without tripods would make their own makeshift elevation tools such as stacks of boxes, or placing the headset down on a couch or on a bed.

The writer of this article hurt his neck as a child while constantly staring into Mario Tennis on a Virtual Boy without a tripod. People are willing to make do with adversity for fun, but sales are even better with more convenience.

Many games in the 2017 world of VR gaming take advantage of lighter technology. Headsets can be strapped on to play games that have graphics far surpassing that of the Virtual Boy era but still limited compared to modern desktop computer or console (Xbox One and PS4) gaming. Star Citizen is an example of a game that connects VR headsets to powerful computers for a sit-down experience with a lot of power behind it, all while using a cockpit as a good excuse to remain immersed while seated.

The future has been explored in animated series such as .hack and Sword Art Online, where an animated world can surpass some of the graphics limitations of real life video recording. To reach for the stars with your VR idea, or to take advantage of the technology expectations now, contact a virtual reality production professional.