My First Week with Virtual Reality
I’ve always been fascinated by VR forever and found a few extra bucks in my wallet along with enough content for VR to see that it is indeed worth getting into. Just over a week ago, I got the Oculus Rift CV1 (the first consumer version). Getting used to VR is quite an adventure all on its own. There are a series of interesting side effects but it’s loads of fun.
I bought the headset in mint condition from a guy on Kijiji since this version is no longer being sold or made. Oculus is now only making “inside-out” VR headsets that don’t really cater well to gamers, but more to the mass market. Until VR technology gets better, this is a good tactic to help increase its popularity. Inside-out tracking means that it only tracks the hand controllers from little cameras on the head-mounted display (HMD aka the headset) meaning that tracking the hand controllers is less accurate and if the cameras can’t see the hand controllers then it stops tracking. This leads to issues and breaking immersion, obviously an issue for gaming. Luckily I got the original Oculus Rift which uses outside-in tracking. This means there are 2 or more sensors mounted around the room that can see you and track the HMD and hand controllers with far more accuracy and nearly no blind spots, this setup is significantly better for gaming.
I first got back to my room around 10:30 pm and had it all set up and running, around midnight. I was very tired from a busy few days prior, but that didn’t stop me from spending the next three and a half hours playing VR. I was just playing around with the free games I download such as VR chat, Rec Room, AltSpace, The Lab, and a couple of others. I went to bed around 4 am, I’m aware that it was not a wise choice. The next day I tried to stay out of VR since I was feeling rather sick from motion sickness and being overly tired. Also, I was afraid to eat out of fear of vomiting, so I didn’t eat much which didn’t help. However, I couldn’t stay out of VR, there was more for me to test out and explore. I felt like Gollum struggling to find the ring and inspect each aspect of…. My precious. I tested out every aspect and set things up to perfection, I played and I played and I got a few more games and I was so deep into the virtual world when I finally took it off I could feel a bold list of side effects.
Here are my side effects from the first two days of VR. My balance was off, reading any small text was tricky for no apparent reason, my stomach was flipping over constantly, crazy headache, and due to having more exercise than normal, I was feeling physically tired, sore, and weak. This lasted nearly a full day but was completely gone when I woke up the next morning. I did, however, go back into VR that day. I was getting tired of constantly giving myself motion sickness so stuck to playing Beatsaber and Super Hot which do not rely on in-game locomotion so I couldn’t get motion sickness. At the end of each playtime, I’d play a game with in-game locomotion to push my brain just a little bit until I felt the motion sickness kick in and then I’d stop playing. I’ve been doing this ever since with good results I was beginning to feel like a lab rat and the scientist rolled into one. I was the one running the experiments on myself.
Current Generation VR displays aren’t the clearest but now I can seamlessly switch between real-life and VR without feeling like my vision just got violated. It’s now totally natural and normal. I no longer get motion sickness from playing games with in-game locomotion. My brain has adapted nicely. VR has a long way to go and even though it’s a totally legitimate platform to make games for and bank on for future content. There are more and more full-sized games coming out along with a few really good ones that are already here. Most games are not full-sized games quite yet and therefore are drastically cheaper than most games.
VR is not ready to replace regular gaming and I’m not sure if it ever will completely. It’s not even ready to act as a method for escaping reality the way many people fear it may be. VR is about as good at escaping reality as normal gaming due to its limits. (However, I would not recommend people use gaming to escape reality since it can be self-destructive and irresponsible) VR makes for a great expansion to gaming and will likely become an everyday household platform in 5–10 years. My cousins and my whole family have tried it and they’ve all loved it. It’s something that will likely be more mainstream than normal gaming in 10 plus years. However, if a game can be played in full VR and using our current gaming methods, then game developers will have to consider allowing players to play in VR or non-VR. As much as I love the idea of running around a fantasy world with a rifle or a sword slaying bad guys with friends and getting a good workout at the same time. However, I also love the feeling of sitting at my desk with a good tea and having one hand on my mouse and having the other dance around my keyboard.
One thing that needs to be mentioned is the social aspect of VR gaming. Gaming, in general, is very social, every online game is a chance to socialize and make friends if you want to. However, in VR you can talk more naturally since most games have your voice projected naturally into the game world. If you want to talk to someone you literally just walk up to them and talk to them the same way you would in real life. It makes a seamless social interaction for all players. People are more friendly for some reason in VR and enjoy one another’s company more too. I’ve already had more conversations with random people in VR than I do in a typical week of gaming. The better VR gets in the future like full-body haptic feedback, force feedback, locomotion, and better headsets and HMDs, the more natural and easier it’ll be for anyone to enjoy the virtual world.
To end this off I can confidently say that anyone who gets to try VR is very lucky. Those who get to own their own VR gear and buy their own games to play for hundreds of hours is even more so. It’s in its early stages and it’s still very limited, but in 5–10 years, it will be the greatest form of gaming and method for socializing through the digital world that we’ve ever had.