VR (Virtual Reality) is finally on its way to change the world and it’s no joke.
From how Nurses train to provide the best health care, allowing scientists to walk around a cancer cell up close and personal, theme parks adopting VR for their roller coasters, to our very own gaming consoles and home VR equipment. Virtual Reality as we all believed it would be, is finally here!
Hello, I’m Dukane Stevenson, writer and editor for The VR Sofa and now here, on WeR1YouR2 for the ‘Game Grid’. I have had a passion for VR for many years, both on and off the screen. My first memory of wanting Virtual Reality to become something I could own started on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) playing Duck Hunt. I remember how blown away I was that you could hold a real gun at the TV, pull the trigger, and the duck on my TV would fall down into the grass. Now that dream has become a reality and it’s within the grasp of so many, it’s become my task to tell you what this technology is really capable of.
‘…Could it actually be like the Matrix?’
First off, if you haven’t tried VR yourself, this will probably already be a question you’ve asked already ‘What is it actually like? Could it actually be like the Matrix?’
The answer is yes. I’ve flown over my home in the UK in VR and while I haven’t been to space myself to compare, there’s nothing quite like looking back at the Earth from low Orbit and realising that you really are just a speck on a dot. This was not a small, or fake feeling, it was real. VR lends itself to immersion, from serious training to save lives, to fighting a dragon, you will feel fear, you will realise that it’s not about having a screen in front of your face. It’s about the experience itself.
Well, it’s about having a 360 degree view, surround sound and relative tracking in a virtual space. In some cases, even controls that follow your hands to allow you to reach out and touch the VR world. These leaps in interactive media have lead to a huge market in Virtual Reality that’s been growing into almost all areas of modern society.
But we aren’t all training with VR to save lives, or wanting to open our minds to a greater cause by going to space. Some of us just want a new way to entertain ourselves, which leads me neatly onto our next topic…
VR at the Theatres is likely one of the first things people imagine when somone mentions Virtual Reality to them. The idea of watching a film, or better yet, being there inside the film, is an idea that has been in sci-fi for decades. From the years of Star Trek and it’s holodeck many of us have dreamed of stepping into our favourite movies and it seems we were not alone..
In an interview on CNET, Yelena Rachitsky [executive producer of For VR experiences at Facebook and Oculus] had this to say on the concept of VR movies:
“We’re really interested in, how do you create that experience of live actors without needing to be in a site-specific location,” she went on to say that “It’s a great way to scale (VR).”
And not just movies. If you have a VR head set on PC (and certain event’s on PSVR or Android Headsets) you can watch a live event as if you were in the stands right now! Saturday Night Live have placed a 360º camera in it’s studio, Football have made a move to do the same, as have Formula 1, (which can be viewed normally here https://www.vrfocus.com/tag/formula-1/,) who now show highlights and recorded footage from the cars themselves in glorious VR or 360 video. Allowing you to finally get a closer look, and more importantly, FEEL closer to the action that before now, has seemed so far away on the other side of a flat screen.
‘DO YOU KNOW DE WA- NO!’
Next we can turn our keen eyes to the social applications for VR. From more well known apps like VR Chat, ‘DO YOU KNOW DE WA-’ NO!
Sigh- VR chat aside, there have been many very well made social apps for VR. There are games like Star Trek VR, where a team of friends can pilot a Starship from the latest movies or the classic episodes of Star Trek. Almost going full circle on the old classic holodeck idea.
Or more pure examples, like Rec Room. A totally cross platform VR app, with a goal to be on all headsets (Incl, PC, Oculus, PSVR, Mixed Reality, to name a few), where you can build your own worlds, create hang out spaces for yourselves and others. There are games big and small to play, from Battle Royale genre to a relaxing game of chess.
Or it you want, take a walk, take photos and take in the scenery. Which may I say myself, is really quite lovely.
Finally, there’s games.
Oh the games… which is why most of us are really here. Your filthy lot you!
If there’s one game to sum up how much the leap to VR has changed how games can be made, its Resident Evil 7.
You may have expected me to say Skyrim, or something like Job Simulator. Both allow movement inside your room itself, use full move/hand controls and are both brighter, more colourful and arguably, more fun.
‘…the door the game now knows your not looking at, slams shut. Your alone in the dark. Oh S#it’
But Resident Evil is a perfect thing. The controls are on a Dual Shock, meaning anyone can jump in with no experience of VR controls. Once inside the game you find you hands are tied (or holding a gun from then on).
I went to try and move my hands in the real world, and my first thought was, ‘Well I can’t, I’m holding the controller.’ So I move my arms, controller in hand, in front of my face and I see my tied hand lift and follow the position of my hands in the real world.
They realised that just the act of holding a controller is much like having your hands tied, and they can track the controller. My thoughts that VR is just a screen were shattered.
It continues to use your view for the entire game. Never leaving your eyes. You feel part of that character, the buttons your pressing are second nature, your as there as you can, or want, to be. My second thought was how can they make this cinematic. How will a horror game be without cut scenes? However, if you have ever seen a horror movie, you’ll know that seeing it from the comfort of behind a camera, has a certain charm. Saw would not have worked from the point of view of the first person to die after all, it would have been somewhat shorter too.
But when something is made for VR, your very own Indiana Jones moment unveiling itself before you, creatures leaping from shadow to shadow. You spin on the spot. Eyes searching the dark as you turn. The door the game now knows your not looking at, slams shut.
You are alone in the dark.
This is more than just a screen close to your face. It’s true immersion.
It has helped me get over mental health problems, it has helped gamers come closer to their heros, it is helping doctors and teachers do their jobs better and it is pushing to try and bring us all a little closer together.
VR on console or android has never been more affordable, It’s only going to get better and the best place to keep up to date with VR…
..is in VR itself!
Written by Dukane Stevenson