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February 2018 Retro Gaming Article


February 3, 2018 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

After seeing the intermittent surges in VR interest over the decades, this is what it takes to interest me

Atari VR
Virtual Reality is nifty, but repeatedly forcing it to fit into the video game model still isn't working for mainstream adoption.
Interest in Virtual Reality comes and goes. The last few years have Predictably shown the greatest strides in bringing it to market, but in the end it didn't take hold. We see consumer interest fading yet again. Sure, there's some great hardware and software out there, but until GameStop and WalMart are selling it at a quick pace, I'm not seeing "success".

Silicon Mirage book For me, I can't see VR ever becoming part of the video game culture. It's a much different thing. For one, playing games seems like a small sliver of what this technology can deliver. Gaming and entertainment doesn't strike me as it's primary value.

Gaming is centered around sitting - alone or with friends. Standing seems to be the best stance for playing VR games. We've all seen the videos of people immersed in virtual worlds and the way they move and flail as they interact with the software. This requires space - room to move around. You need a safe space where you won't knock over a lamp every time a zombie charges from stage-left.

Immersion is the other detriment to traditional gaming. Personally, I don't want to have a headset constraining my view to "the game". I'm not claustrophobic, but I don't like having my view limited like that - especially if I'm hanging out with friends.

Couch-based gaming with friends is full of quickly exchanged looks and gestures that occur outside the confine of the game. I couldn't play Mario Kart with friends without leering at them, yelling and making gestures as I overtake their lead. There's a human, physical side to gaming that is cut-off when your primary senses are relegated to the game.

Atari VR ad Of course the expense is still too high for mainstream adoption. Costs have come way down, but it needs to be at an attainable level for the majority of consumers. Widespread adoption will also begin a serious set of standards. Right now, each company has it's own way of delivering VR. This makes most games exclusive to the platform they were developed for be it PlayStation Pro, Oculus, or Vive. That doesn't create a large enough audience to offset development costs through game sales.

I'm sure VR is here to stay, but I think we'll see more benefits in medical and commercial levels before it becomes a viable gaming platform. Hats off to those who dove into PSVR. If you love it, then it's a good thing. And it will only get better as time passes and the technology advances.

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