Why VR Will Be the Next Big Thing
A week ago, I wrote an article about my opinion that the eighth generation of console gaming will be the last, whilst putting out some options on where gaming might go next.
One of those options was Virtual Reality (VR), especially looking at how much hype the Oculus Rift has. But even ignoring the buzz, VR is something I genuinely believe that will be the next big thing in gaming.
Over the past decade, whilst we have certainly bettered ourselves on graphics and processing capability, we have also been looking at inventing new ways to play with games. The biggest innovation was with motion controls.
Both the Sony EyeToy and the Xbox Kinect used imaging technology in two very different ways to do similar things. They would use camera technology to translating players' movements into actions within the game. One of the most succesful and impactful of motion control innovations was Nintendo's Wii.
But whilst inventive, the change these brought to gaming was small. Due to technical limitations, motion control never caught on as a revolutionary interface when it came to mainstream and adult gaming, despite many efforts like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Because of this, it still doesn't seem like developers are keen to develop more motion controlled games, despite the Xbox One's ludicrously advanced Kinect. So it looks like we've squeezed as much as we can from motion control.
Something Extra, Not Something New
As an eighth generation of hardware has literally only just come it, it would really be silly to have VR come out as an entirely new standalone piece of technology. Leading the way, the Oculus Rift isn't about creating something completely separate to modern gaming, but creating something complimentary and enhancing to what we already have.
How the Oculus Rift works is that the headset merely processes an output from a device. At the moment, Oculus Rift games are being pumped out of desktop machines. So there's no reason why games consoles can't transmit the same signals to an Oculus Rift headset with only a few output and software adjustments.
Furthermore, the Oculus Rift works with current standard controllers. Any Oculus Rift game will still need an input device such as a keyboard or a controller to play them, meaning the headset is all you need in addition to what you already own, and won't work against the current crop of hardware.
Gaming has always strived for more immersive experiences. The development in graphics really spurred this over the past 30 years. The only frontier left for immersion is to actually place the player in the game rather than sit them in front of it. Of course, VR is pretty much the only tool we have to do that outside of recreating the Holodeck from Star Trek.
VR or Bust
Given these reasons, it's difficult to see how VR isn't going to make it this time. All the conditions are right for its success: the technology is there, and so is the interest and sense of innovation. Indie developers in particular are getting behind it, with ports of games such as Montague's Mount and Surgeon Simulator 2013 already having prototypes available.
"This is the perfect generation of gaming for VR to establish itself within. If it fails, it will fail forever..."
But at the same time, if it can't break the market now, it probably never will. This is the perfect generation of gaming for VR to establish itself in. If it fails, it will fail forever.
So, take a punt and get behind the goggles of this brave new virtual world. It could change the face of gaming forever if it succeeds, and I, for one, couldn't be more bloody excited for it!
To find out more about the Oculus Rift, visit www.oculusvr.com.