What's the future of video gaming?


Feb 13, 2011
In your bedroom wardrobe...
I recently got a PS4 VR headset and cam. For someone who is institutionally broke, it was an irresponsible move. Furthermore, for someone who tends to be a recluse it was an even worse buy.

Admittedly, I only bought it because of my love for Star Wars and the Battlefront franchise. I've been a fan of the new BF game despite all the negative backlash on lite-content etc. It's simply mindblowing to have that world rendered so well, with such varied loadout options and the last DLC - the Death Star - was outstanding. But, a free DLC of a short X-wing mission was made available late last year and although it was showing on my roster, I obviously couldn't play it without the VR equipment.

I can't put into words the enjoyment I have had in that short mission. Often I log in just to be in that environment. Even though the definition is not as crisp as on a usual 1080 TV/game it's sharp and where it isn't, forgiveable. But more than that is the extraordinary freedom and learning curve that comes with realising you can look physically instead of changing camera with the right joystick. And the little touches! Being in a screen-accurate cockpit with functioning buttons is awesome. I even turned around in my seat mid-flight and my R2 unit beeped at me from behind. I'm a particular fan of the space battle/flying misions, so making this proof of concept mission in space was a dream come true. Being able to fly around a Nebulon B, Blockade Runner or even Y-wing gives you a sense that Star Wars is 'real' and it's great fun until the Star Destroyer arrives. But that's awesome, too.

I was so impressed that I ordered David Attenboroughs Early Life in the Oceans video which, although short is quite nice. A few Wii-like games are free with the Playroom and they kept me interested for a bit but are very short (as are all VR games right now).

But then I bought my first proper VR game, this Friday. It is called Farpoint and although it's had outstanding reviews (mostly) I have not been able to play it a lot because it is perhaps too-hardcore.

At this point, I should say, the PSVR head set can be used on any PS4 game, but the only effect you will get is that it is like playing you game on an IMAX screen. This worked well for Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, and Journey, but not so good on Need for Speed or hectic quick-perspective-change games, or ones where you need to see everything at once. For example, when I play Battlefront in the VR headset, it is often easy to miss things in the side gauge HUDs as you literally look left and right like in a tennis match.

Additionally, it's great to watch movies on as it is just like being in the theatre, and the headphones isolate you in a wonderful way.

Going back to Farpoint, though. I found it quite hard to maintain a level of calmness. Without going into spoilers, you're crashlanded on a rocky planet like an extreme Geonosis, trying to find your crew, and walk quite a way before the first thing skitters out and jumps at you.

I got the shivers and then became ridiculously cautious and moved very slowly as I was so scared. Yes, I was scared, even though this is a scifi FPS, and I am a horror afficionado who doesn't get scared.

It made me think of what the next gen of VR will be like - esp when wireless - and when more AAA games like Dead Space or other survival horror titles are released.

I'm one of those people who bemoan the plugged-in generation of smartphone social media addicts, but am honest enough to realise that I could quite literally lose myself in a VR world and become a shut in.

My friends and I were discussing it and a non-gamer, asked me 'Yeah, but doesn't it mean you'll miss real life? You know, it's not real, so...' and my reply shocked myself. I said I didn't care. I said that I could quite happily waste the rest of my life working to pay bills and living in the VR world.

As far as the thread title is concerned, I think the biggest hurdle we have to get over in the improvement of these VR techs is to be able to make them much smaller like the holobands in Caprica, as the set needs its own processor. Once that is done, and it can be coupled with Augmented Reality, I seriously think I'll check out of Real Life.

Bring it on! I would not live my life in VR, but watching movies and playing games looks amazing. I haven't invested in it yet, I'll wait for it to mature a little.

Ultimately it would be fun to easily create your own universe to explore - set some parameters, let the algorithms spin up, and off you go.
I have a feeling that, if they ever made a full-on VR/Star Trek-type holodeck gaming world, I'd probably end up living in it. It better come with an IV to keep me fed. :p
I'm hoping VR can make us do away with computer monitors in some regards, especially for multi-monitor setups. Trouble is I get headaches just from long hair, so I doubt I could tolerate the weight of a headset all day long.

For games, though, I think the applications are essentially endless, so long as developers remember that not everyone lives in a vast house with 8ft of space around them in all directions :D
Hopefully soon the game graphics will be 'injected' directly into the mind via EM fields or some other whataboutery. And perhaps they'll trigger the 'dream' part of the brain and use that. As I seem to move about and do all sorts of things in dreams and not require much space ;)

Anyway, it's really all about gameplay - I mean I can be enthralled and hooked about a lovely 2-D map which occasionally gives me a few text options that very slowly changes colour. (CK2 I'm looking at you.) I don't think it would actually be that much better in VR!
Interesting question, but I'm pretty sure that the type of full immersive technology required to allow humans to be full immersed in VR is still quite a ways away. Until they can fully trigger sensory nodes and bring VR out of the visual plane, it's unlikely people are going to be able to get "lost" in VR quite on the level of Ready Player One. And the technology for that is still in its infancy. We still don't understand enough of the human brain to be able to successfully trigger those electrodes accurately.

And while I understand the temptations, humans have been proven to need social interaction with all five senses. Of course there will be the people on the fringe of the bell curve who could operate fine without it, but as a species, we need, crave, contact through touch especially. So I doubt VR will be able to supercede that any time soon. I know they are working with sensory gloves etc, but it's like, your mind/instinct won't be convinced that's real for your whole life!

Otherwise, I agree it's all about gameplay. I think modern games are proving that. It's not always about the immersion so much as how it stimulates the brain. I find I much prefer playing throwback games in 16 bit because they are mentally challenging! If I want to feel how it's like to dive in water, I'll just go find a pool....
You reckon? I mean, virtual experiences like Star Tours are surprisingly immersive once you've been in them for about five minutes. The screen shows a steep descent, you get tipped forward a little bit, and your brain goes "ARGH WE'RE PLUMMETING!" It's surprisingly clever. The brain is reasonably easy to trick.
It's feasible for things like vehicle transportation. Not so much for item or person to person interaction. And the Uncanny Valley still hasn't been solved.

And I don't think you'd want to live in those Star Tours boxes if you couldn't do anything but feel the vertigo, you know what I mean?
I'm really looking forward to the day when you can pay some health nut to take over your brain and do all the boring exercise in your body while you go off and read a book for an hour.
I don't need human contact. I need more Star Wars VR. As long as I get to prance around screaming 'it's a trap!' or do some lightsabre-ing I'll be fine. Catheter and IV and I'm good to go ;)

I think I did mention that 1% off the bell curve, Phyrebat.... :p

If we're going to go so far, I think I'm looking forward to the Ghost in the Shell/Bobverse days when we can just live through sensory electrical nodes and ditch this whole mortal body thing.
I remember playing Lylat Wars (Star Fox) on the Nintendo 64, and it was the first time I played a game and felt so immersed it was like I was part of a film. It seemed like a huge advance at the time. It's amazing how far things have come in 20 years.

Perhaps VR will become as popular for 'experiences' as games, including travel - go to Venice, Machu Picchu, Angkor or the Taj Mahal without the hassle of flying, the crowds etc. It's already possible to be at some concerts without actually being there, due to VR. And like the Attenborough video you mentioned - experiences that would otherwise be out-of-reach for most, like diving to the bottom of the ocean, climbing Everest or going to the moon. And there are already the VR zombie experiences in disused buildings, and similar things.

I can't see how any of the above will get close to real-life in the next 50 years though. Can we go further than vision and sound in that time? I have a friend who used to play a lot of Skyrim, and he'd ask "is that Skyrim?" when he saw my holiday photos. I always said yes, there was a glitch in the code and I found my way in. I used to play a lot of games, but games don't match real-life experiences! There are some incredible places out there.

Your comment about not caring if you lived in VR reminds me of a film called Strange Days, where people could relive experiences from their past.
Ooooh, I think I might have seen that film. I'm going to have a little nose online and see if it's the one I'm thinking.

I'm not particualrly interested in VR traveling so much as gaming. There are a few proof-of-concept VR tours like that already and they are not a patch on the real thing (yet, I suppose), because you're just on rails and the immersion is less than when gaming.

For me, it's all about Star Wars. I've not been so moved by spectacle since I first went to Egypt, as I was when I played the 15 min X-Wing VR mission on Battlefront. It just doesn't get old.


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