It’s important to consider, how gaming will change to work with virtual reality. It promises further immersion, interactivity and real reactions. In the process we may lose the traditional feel of gaming, the barrier between the player and the game, and long game sessions.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of virtual reality is the increased immersion. Systems like Playstation VR bring you further into the game. You are immersed in 360 degrees, making the experience more ‘real’.
This has been the goal of entertainment for years, better graphics and design mean that gamers have had to use less of their imagination to fill in the gaps. Escapism is an essential component of any form of entertainment and it seems as though virtual reality has taken this to the furthest extent.
Once people are this immersed in a game it’s not long until they will be googling how to watch Playstation VR porn. Other industries will follow by using gaming hardware for other applications shifting how we see them as well.
With a new level of immersion comes a new level of interactivity. Controllers for systems like Playstation VR look more like sleek TV remote controls than the console controllers that we’ve all grown up with.
This has prompted the question of how to make a controller that doesn’t feel like one, as this increases immersion and interactivity. At the heart of VR technology is the idea of making the experience not necessarily feel like a video game.
Many VR games are designed to show the player’s hands, giving the illusion that the player can interact in new ways. This would be broken by the use of a conventional controller. How you interact in a Playstation VR game has been one of the biggest challenges for developers, but the push now is for a more intuitive experience.
One of the best parts about virtual reality gaming are the reaction videos online. It’s fun to watch someone completely freak out while playing a horror game or try and touch something that isn’t there.
Virtual reality tricks your brain, because of the increased level of immersion your brain can’t tell that what you are seeing isn’t actually happening. This is why people have such intense reactions and even sometimes experience VR motion sickness.
This is fantastic if your goal is to make the most real experience possible. It’s not so great if you need to remember where you are and what is around you. It also raises ethical questions about how certain kinds of games can have psychological effects on gamers. A topic that immediately puts gamers on edge.
What are we losing in the shift to virtual reality? To many people the experience of sitting down on a couch and holding a controller will forever be how they envision gaming. Games now are for the most part based on how a player pushes buttons and uses a control stick. This is fundamentally changing with systems like Playstation VR.
Motion controls will play an even larger role than they have in the past and the new hardware will undoubtedly change the way games are designed. Many of the games that have been released for Playstation VR are more like experiences than games in the strictest sense of the word.
Virtual reality is a step away from the traditional feel of video games and even the traditional definition of what a game is.
Virtual reality is also getting rid of the barrier between the player and the TV. How you feel about this depends on your perspective. If you are the type of person that is looking for the deepest level of immersion then this is great.
But there are people that would be turned off by this. For one not being able to tell what is real and what is not can be terrifying if you aren’t prepared. This is why reaction videos for people playing Playstation VR games are so intense.
It’s not uncommon to see people break down and stop playing because it’s too much to handle. Sometimes it can be comforting to know you are in your home and not actually at risk.
This is something that may change in the future but as it stands now virtual reality has somewhat of a time limit on how long you can play. Many games will feature a disclaimer encouraging players to take ten minute breaks every half hour.
For a lot of gamers that's not enough time. In many games that wouldn’t be long enough to play a round online, let alone a night with friends. Depending on the game, players will play for an average of 1-2 hours with traditional games. Stopping to take breaks also breaks the immersion that virtual reality is working so hard to build.
The concern around nausea is also a major issue that VR developers are struggling with. Many traditional game types are completely dizzying in first person, even more so in virtual reality. This is another reason that developers have to rethink how games work for virtual reality.
What does this mean for the future?
How you feel about virtual reality will depend on what you value in your gaming experience. Those who love the immersion and escapism of gaming will embrace systems like Playstation VR. Those who enjoy knowing it’s a game, and playing for hours on end may not.
Gamers love nostalgia, it’s why people play old systems, and that isn’t going away. But it looks like virtual reality is where the games industry is going, and further immersion is the goal. This will change how we play, the way we view games, and what games even are.