I’m old enough to recall virtual reality (VR) as we know it today being released the first time around in the 1990s. I remember going to the London Trocadero and getting caught up in a swarm of other teenagers, all eager to be transported to another world.
The fad didn’t last long though. The huge and extremely blocky gap between a digital experience and real-life thanks to premature technology meant VR never really took off. But it made a comeback this decade when the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive drew our attention back to virtual lands; and then console manufacturers jumped on board to give us hardware such as the PlayStation VR (PSVR). We’ve had one of these on our house since picking it up for Christmas in 2017 and every family member has had a go.
Except for me, that is. I’ve never used our headset and it’s highly likely I never will. You see, although I’m interested in the technological aspects thanks to a day-job in IT, VR just isn’t for me as a gamer. There are a number of reasons for this and I’m going to dig into them today thanks to a little collaboration Harry from the aptly-named Escape Reality Through Games. With both feet firmly in the real world, let’s dive into The reality of virtual reality.
1. It makes me feel nauseous
I’m one of those unfortunate people who feels nauseous when they put on a headset. The first time I tried VR was when I played Dream by HyperSloth at a Rezzed event years ago – and I had to stop after several minutes and leave the stand because I felt as though I was going to throw up. That swishing feeling in the pit of your stomach isn’t something you want to experience while trying to enjoy a game and, although I’m sure the technology has gotten better since 2014 or so, I’m not keen to experience it again.
2. I like being grounded in reality
Perhaps that nauseous feeling is in part caused by being taken out of my reality and dropped into another. I might like being transported to new and amazing lands through video games, but I prefer to know exactly where I am while playing them (usually on my sofa). There’s something about removing most of your awareness of what’s happening around you in the real world when donning a headset that kind of freaks me out a bit – although I do understand that’s the reason why plenty of people enjoy VR.
3. The costs are still too high
Let’s add up the costs if you were looking to buy the PSVR. It’s around £220 for the starter pack, then another £70 for the Move Controllers if you want them – and that’s without the PlayStation itself. You’re looking at a minimum of £500 for the most basic package without any games and it’s even higher if you want the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. That price barrier is still too big for many gamers, especially when you compare it to the titles available for the platforms, and VR won’t become more popular until it lowers.
4. It still needs work
Although VR has changed drastically since the days of the Trocadero, I’m still not sure it’s good enough to warrant its high cost. The Move Controllers don’t always react in the way you want them to; the play-area frequently needs to be reset mid-game; and our living-room becomes a cable-hell whenever the boys want to get out the headset. That’s not to mention the fact I have to be there to make sure they don’t step on the cat. The hardware still has a long way to go – and cat-detection needs to be added.
5. I’m fed-up of Job Simulator
Although I’ve watched Pete play a few good VR releases such as The Assembly by nDreams and Moss by Polyarc, a lot of the games are sub-standard. My stepson will always ask to play Job Simulator first whenever the PSVR is out and I’m absolutely sick of it. There’s no real objective, the gameplay is boring and repetitive, and the graphics just aren’t appealing. Most VR titles seem to follow a similar path and seem to be sadly lacking in any kind of narrative depth.
Perhaps in the future we’ll see a new era of VR experiences that are more accessible, reliable and immersive – and don’t make us feel nauseous. But right now no VR platform currently has enough content to satisfy our entertainment needs and they’re all too highly priced for most consumers. Although it’s certainly come a long way since since the 1990s, it’s just going to take a bit longer to become mainstream than we initially thought.
Harry from Escape Reality Through Games thinks otherwise. Make sure you head over to his site to check out his post about his reasons for being a fan of VR. Then tell us what you think: are you for or against the current reality of virtual reality?
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.