VR Is Really Cool, But You Can’t Have It

We’re starting to see a lot of articles about how VR has a content problem, but if you scan the web it seems like every other article is about some really cool content the reviewer just tried. That’s because VR reporting spends all of its time talking about the cool new thing that’s coming, when the reality is that the majority of demos never turn into consumer products. From rescuing cats from ledges to using your breath in VR, here are some of the experiences I have been inspired by — only to find out that I’ll never get to try them.

1. Save That Cat!

If you’re at all interested in virtual reality, you’ve probably watched hilarious videos of people crawling across a board on the floor, trying to rescue a cat that’s stranded at the end of the beam on the top of a giant skyscraper. If you Google “save a cat in VR” every page is a new story about this “game.” The first result I got proudly declared “You Can Now Save a Kitten in Virtual Reality!” The only problem?

You can’t.

The article mentioned above made the rounds at our office, and someone asked if we could try it out. “Sure!”I cheerfully told everyone who asked. How hard can it be? All I need is a long thin board and a stuffed animal. We’ve got room to set this up in our VR room! I thought. I jumped online and started scanning through the articles, trying to figure out where to download the experience. “Take my money!” I screamed at the screen. But no one would.

The experience is only available to try live at the VR Zone Project i Can, in Tokyo. If you happen to be in the area, feel free to try it out and post yet another video to Youtube in order to mock us with all of the cool stuff that we’ll never be able to do!

2. Breathe Deep

Image this: using only your breath, you can control your journey through a fantastical landscape, playing a simple game while learning the tricks and techniques of deep breathing meditation. Sounds great, right?

NO VR FOR YOU!

DEEP is a meditative VR game controlled by breathing. Players don a headset and a custom controller (basically a fancy belt that goes across your ribcage) to explore an underwater world. The game teaches players yogic breathing techniques that can alleviate stress, anxiety, and mild depression. If you think that sounds cool, you would not be alone. The first two pages on a Google search for “vr breathing meditation” are nothing but articles about this amazing game. GAME. Not one of the articles I read called it a ‘demo,’ and none mentioned that it wasn’t available to consumers. Even the website was confusingly blank of purchasing details; it took me ten minutes of concerted searching to realize I couldn’t find a purchase link because it wasn’t available to purchase.

That sure didn’t help my breathing.

3. Geographic Content

It’s not exactly uncommon for the internet to be American-centric, but it IS uncommon for that to be such a problem (unless your American friends constantly post Daily Show clips that you can’t watch because the content is locked for their region). Pages and pages of internet ‘ink’ have been spilled lauding The Walk, a terrorizing 360 video of walking on a tightrope between New York’s Twin Towers. Sounds great, right? Apparently it is. If you live in the US, feel free to tell me all about it.

Then there’s the lack of non-English (or non-language based) content. One developer in South Korea bemoaned that even when a game doesn’t require language to play, all of the instructions for how to play are in English, and right now very few games have the capital to translate into multiple languages.

For consumers outside of the US, figuring out what they can actually play can be a huge headache.

4. Cat Petting Simulator

There’s only one problem with the adorable cat petting simulator that has everyone talking — it isn’t real. Someone made it as a joke, but unlike joke games like Desert Bus, which went on to raise more than $2.5 million for charity, the creator of this internet meme has no plans (thus far) to turn the single gif into an actual VR experience.

Some people are concerned by the apparent violence against animals, though I maintain that the clumsy hands are like that of a three year old and can’t really be blamed, and anyway the cat is fine. It shook it off, and in the future it will avoid your brother’s friend because he only has dogs and doesn’t understand that cats don’t like to wrestle.


Originally published at hammerandtusk.com.