Virtual reality games appear to be sneaking in to bring the new generation of consoles to the next level. With the Project Morpheus for PlayStation 4 already revealed to the public at GDC, and Microsoft hinting at and considering similar plans, the Virtual Boy may have been simply too early and primitive.
For quite a while now, virtual reality gaming has been like Wilson from Home Improvement, occasionally glancing over the fence and keeping us wondering what’s really going on. While the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have both proven to be a little underwhelming as “next gen” consoles, it seems the real next generation is a peripheral that will bring the HD gameplay to a level that movie theaters can only dream of. With the introduction of the Oculus Rift, virtual reality technology is becoming that commonplace item that everybody’s working on and nobody has perfected yet.
Are virtual reality games really the wave of the future though? They very well could be, with movies teasing it for decades already and devices actually being produced to make it happen.
Movie theaters have been closing in on virtual reality for almost a decade now, with relatively improved 3D technology and the massive screen of IMAX. They have been attempting it without actually putting headsets on moviegoers. After all, the same headset being shared by several strangers is just unsanitary. You don’t know if the last user had a hygiene problem or if they were sick, or if the theater staff cleans them regularly.
From the archive: Reality Crumbles, a look back at VR from before the emergence of Oculus and Morpheus – http://t.co/TzD3PBaIqx
— Eurogamer.net (@eurogamer) March 23, 2014
Yes, there is a dirty downside to the concept of virtual reality gaming as well. We knew about it way back when Sylvester Stallone’s character in Demolition Man was introduced to “simulated sex.” Where virtual reality technology becomes commonplace, virtual porn is certainly not far behind, but that’s beside the point.
Putting video games directly in front of your eyeballs is a little easier with consoles than it is to put movies there in movie theaters though. With most new games attempting (and often failing) to reach the “Holy Grail” of performance at 1080p 60fps, we are closer to photo-realistic action on the screen than ever before. The most effective genres for virtual reality gaming would usually be the first person varieties, of course. How else can the gamer be almost fooled into believing they’re actually in the game?
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, there are also potential health problems with virtual reality games becoming the new norm as well. Some gamers might experience vertigo or motion sickness if the headset turns the field of view with their actual motions. The alternative would be the even more disorienting potential of looking around without moving your head, and if you’re not familiar with the controller you won’t have much fun with it anyway.
The Oculus Rift has already been in development for a while, and Sony’s Project Morpheus is well on its way toward replicating everything about it. However, Morpheus’ LCD display might be a little less comfortable than the Rift’s OLED and special lenses. The resulting difference is a somewhat blurrier image on the Morpheus which might bring back memories of the N64 (it only seemed to be blurry, but the pixel edges were less noticeable).
Project Morpheus also only offers a 90 degree field of view, not quite up to the slightly more peripheral vision friendly 100 degrees of the Oculus Rift, but again, virtual reality technology is still in its early phases and a lot can change.
While Microsoft could only comment on Sony’s attempt at a virtual reality gaming peripheral, Phil Spencer remarked that they have been toying with the idea:
“I think the technology’s really interesting, and it’s definitely something we’ve been playing with for quite a while.”
He also allegedly stated that he doesn’t know how mainstream the idea of virtual reality games will get when it’s finally in the public’s hands, but Sony did a “good job.”
— GameSpot (@gamespot) March 23, 2014
Indeed, there have been many failed attempts at gaming peripherals in the past, and Microsoft could be playing the “wait and see” game to decide if they want to fully pursue it. If virtual reality gaming isn’t profitable enough, they may be saving time and money by not attempting it. After all, the Xbox One has the most advanced video game camera device ever with the second generation Kinect.
Are virtual reality games the true next generation, or should we have stopped with the Virtual Boy?
[images via Bing]