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The reality of virtual reality

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

PlayStation VR, Christmas, Pete, PatriciaLet’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?

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

36 thoughts on “The reality of virtual reality Leave a comment

  1. Instead of VR, I went and invested in a super ultrawide screen — 32:9, runs at 5120×1440 — and it’s amazing. For games that support it — that is. And there in lies the biggest caveat. The second being even a 1080ti has some issues driving the pixels required at high frames.

    Those big things out of the way first — holy moley the sense of getting peripheral vision back while playing a game is about the best VR non-VR experience one can get, I reckon. There is just no conceivable way to focus on the entire screen so you rather naturally end up focusing on the centre and flicking your view when some motion or other such thing catches your attention.

    Overall, I would put screens this wide and the experience they offer pretty much at an equal level to VR development. Roughly second generation (I give the 90’s VR a half point. xD I remember playing around with it in Descent!), difficult but not impossible to drive adequately with the supporting hardware, etc. Still — its an alternative. And a lot of games that neglect to ‘officially’ support it get third party modders fixing them up right-quick. Much wider range games to play too. xD

    Having just said all that though?

    I can see a future, probably in the next few years, where I pick-up a VR set of some sort. Looking forward to it, but similar set of issues to yours — minus the nausea and the related #2!


    • Oh that’s interesting… VR experiences for non-VR gamers such as myself ha ha! We’re in the process of renovating our house and will be starting to set up our dedicated gaming area next year, so ultrawide screens are definitely something worth considering when we get there.

      It’s point number two above which makes me doubt I’ll ever become fully VR though. That being said, I can certainly understand why it appeals to so many people – and how big it could become if done right. We’ve come a long way from the 1990s but there’s still a journey ahead before we reach the experience everyone is dreaming of.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see your points — particularly the physical discomfort and motion sickness, though for many people that is something that you have to kind of force your way through for a couple of sessions before you get over it. It is possible, but I also understand not everyone wanting to go through that initial adjustment period!

    As for the lack of games… there’s a lot more than you think. There are a decent amount of genuinely excellent VR games now — certainly far more than the endless parade of “haha look you can throw things” nonsense we got in the earlier days — but the trouble is there just isn’t any good coverage of them! I don’t know why this is; I’m sure the big commercial websites would have the resources to be able to cover them adequately, but perhaps they’re seen as too niche interest for them to waste time harvesting their precious clicks over.

    In particular, there are quite a few devs really starting to realise the potential of VR as a means of delivering an immersive narrative. I have a couple of games on my shelf that I need to investigate soon in that regard; I’m excited to try them, particularly as other games I’ve tried that focus on character interaction (such as Summer Lesson) have an unparalleled sense of “presence” and intimacy.

    Also Astro Bot is one of the best platform games ever, and it absolutely wouldn’t be the same not in VR! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funnily enough, Astro Bot was the game Harry recommended to me while we were planning this little collaboration. We’ve already purchased it in preparation for our upcoming charity streams – although I think I’ll leave the actual playing to my other-half, while I backseat-game from the sofa. 😉

      I’d love to hear your suggestions if there are any VR experiences you’d recommend trying. There’s one that I’ve been kind of interested in since its release even though the reviews aren’t overly enthusiastic (Transference), but we just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I was sceptical until I tried it almost 2 years ago now, after years of hearing my colleagues rave about it.

    I tried a few things, but Robo Recall sticks in my mind. Standing on the street watching a robot uprising, surrounded by robots, that was very unnerving!

    Ultimately I didn’t buy into it because the technology just wasn’t right for me, it was a huge step back in terms of graphical quality, you could tell you were in a video game. You could tell the screen was right up against your eyes.

    I watched a review of the recently released Valve Index and it seems they’re pushing higher frame rates and the like, which will apparently help with motion sickness. Maybe the tech will get there eventually so it becomes more mainstream.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely think it will one day, and it’s interesting to hear at work conferences how companies are hoping to integrate VR into business as well as entertainment. But there’s still a long way to go before we all start taking VR in our homes for granted… or find ourselves in a dystopian future where we’d all rather live in an online world. 😉

      She says, as she lives out her life online on a blog. Hmm.


      • Hahaha. On a slightly related note, I really enjoyed the “Ready Player One” movie, because I can just believe it will happen. I mean, it’s already happening.


        • When you compare the technology we had available to us as kids to that around nowadays, it makes you wonder what it’s going to be like for our own children when they’re our age!

          While I’m not overly excited about VR itself, I’m really interested by the impact it’s going to have on society. Will a day come when all of our interactions are in a virtual world rather than the real one? Will we all be uploading ourselves à la SOMA?


  4. I really want to get in to VR. But the price and the fact I dont know if I will enjoy it puts me off. I’m hoping that Valves recent announcement of Alyx will help push the tech further, make it more mainstream and therefore bring the costs down a bit. But we shall see.
    I do think that Alyx has the potential to be the first killer app for VR.


    • Yeah, I think we’re still waiting for that first big-hitter. There are some interesting VR games on the market already but none of them really live up to what we all think the platform could potentially be.

      I’ll be interested to see whether the promise of a VR game related to Half-Life sucks everyone in, or if the cost barrier is still too high and pushes them away…


  5. VR will go mainstream when the only tech you need is a pair of glasses, indistinguishable from regular spectacles, that project the image directly into your eyes. So long as it involves fitting a device over the head that blocks out all other visual input it will remain the niche interest it currently is.

    That said, the niche might expand a little if the hardware was integrated into something like a full-face motorcycle helmet, which has familiarity.


    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this comment! The reason why my other-half and stepson don’t use our PlayStation VR more often is because it takes some effort to set up and it can be quite unwieldy. We tend to get the headset out only when we have people over for the evening or it’s a family ocassion – like at Christmas.

      The first developer to create a VR experience which integrates seamlessly with the real world is going to make a fortune…


  6. “There’s no real objective, the gameplay is boring and repetitive, and the graphics just aren’t appealing.” Sounds like they nailed Job Simulator, to be honest 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 🤔I don’t ever remember VR at the Trocadero. I know there used to be those motion cabinet simulators but don’t remember VR. Could be wrong, many happy teenage Friday night spent there then mooching for games in Virgin afterwards.. *whimsical reminiscing sounds*


    • Hmm… maybe I’ve got the location wrong… but I definitely recall being somewhere around Piccadilly Circus and watching people wearing massive headsets! I’ll have to give my brother a call and pick his brains to see if he can remember it. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • It may have been. Seem to remember the top floor was arcade machines, the bowling lanes underneath and I think the simulators? May have been with those? Not to detract from the article, just a wave of nostalgia thinking of the good old days…


        • You carry on and enjoy that nostalgia trip! 😉

          I spoke to my brother last night and remembers my dad trying VR with him somewhere in London, but couldn’t say whether it was the Trocadero. So I asked a friend if he recalled it ever being there and he couldn’t remember either! Perhaps it’s one of those mysteries which is going to be lost to time…


  8. Whilst is put the Vive in the category of ‘cool things’, I totally agree with lots of your points. I scour the Steam store for interesting titles only to be disappointed. I could probably list on one hand the VR titles I’d actually recommend that are outside the realms of being an interesting tech demo.


    • If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them! We’re looking for VR games to add to the list for GameBlast so any which aren’t Job Simulator are welcome. 😉


      • Sooo, the best vr titles I’ve played are
        – I expect you to die
        – the invisible hours (although that’s probably too slow paced to stream)
        – Payday2’s VR mode
        – Beat Sabre

        … And actually had lots of fun in tiltbrush and Google earth… But they’re not really games.

        Oh, and Recroom. Recroom is cool because it’s free, and cross platform, so I can online game with my psvr owning friends in vr. It’s mostly silly things like paintball or laser tag. Or frisbee golf.


        • The Invisible Hours is probably the one that seems most my kind of thing… I’ve never heard of it before! We spoke previously about getting some Recroom action going for the charity streams so we’ll rope you into a game one weekend if you’re still up for it. 😉


          • 😁… Woooooh! Frisbee golf!! … You can play recroom in screen mode too, so maybe both of you could join 🤔… No idea how frisbee golf would work on screen.

            Invisible Hours is really interesting. I’ve probably days before, but I enjoy an Agatha Christie mystery, so right up my street… But it’s not really a game as you’re basically just watching events play out.


            • Hmm ok… I’ll dig out the second PlayStation this weekend and get Rec Room downloaded onto both. Maybe we can fit in some frisbee golf over the next few weeks to test it out. 😉


  9. When the price comes down I’m probably in! I’ve played Skyrim and Superhot in VR at my buddy’s house and freaking loved it. Skyrim made me a little woozy at first (felt like I was going to fall out of the cart at the start of the game 😂) but I adjusted. Superhot was amazing! I got to punch, shoot, and throw stuff at polygon people. Very therapeutic 😁

    And yes, pet detection is definitely needed. My buddy made sure his dog didn’t get in my way and he has to put him in another room when he plays alone. I could see me accidentally stepping on my nosey cats if I got one, haha.


    • We did Skyrim VR for GameBlast a couple of years ago, and it was funny seeing Ben play it. He’s usually really chilled out and calm but give him the ability to throw fireballs and nobody is safe! ha ha

      Might have to dig it back out again for the charity streams… 🤔


  10. I use it for education, but more as a treat, or consolidation. I always see it more as an experience than a gaming platform. However, put this on the face of a 9 year old and bring them face to face with a dinosaur! that’s like magic!. For gaming, for me at least, Player one isn’t ready quite yet.


    • I can definitely see the advantages of VR when it comes to education! I work in a university and we’ve just started dipping our toes into those waters, although it’s going to be a challenge to convince everyone to use technology as certain areas can still be quite ‘old school’. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out.

      I’m on your side when it comes to gaming though: it still needs work for gaming, in terms of both hardware and software. There’s only so much Job Simulator I can take. 😉


  11. I love my headset and just can’t get enough they need to add a timer so you know how long you’ve been in though


    • You know what, that’s not a bad idea at all. We have to keep a close eye on my stepkid when he’s playing – if we don’t tell him to stop, he’d never take a break and would spend hours in VR!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup you have no concept of time once you enter a game because you rarely go back to the menu where the clock is so a timer built inside the exit app screen where the record buttons are would allow you to simply pause and see how long you’ve been playing. Or since it’s a work out they could add a simply take a break warning after a certain amount of time not unlike when Netflix asks ( are u still there?)


        • I’m quite surprised nobody has implemented something like this already. I mean, what with all the health warnings you get when you turn on the PSVR, then on the games, and all over the PlayStation website, a timer makes a lot of sense. 🤔

          Liked by 1 person

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