Virtually Skeptical

VR is here! Or it will be here very soon! Or it has been here for a while and we’re just now acknowledging it! Whatever your stance on VR, it’s a subject that has a lot of people unsure, myself included. In theory, I’d always believed VR sounded interesting, but in practice, I wasn’t so sure. That is until recently.

When the Oculus was still in its infancy and only available to the most elite of the in-crowd, I had a chance to try a simple roller coaster demo. Friends of mine tried it and were impressed, so I knew I had to see what all the fuss was about. I strapped on the headset, looked around, and 30 seconds later took it off with a nervous scream of “If I do that any longer, I’m gonna throw up!” I felt fortunate to get away relatively unscathed as one of my other friends reported being nauseous throughout the weekend.

Seasick on Dry Land

I’m the kind of person who can find himself ill with little to no provocation. I get car sick, air sick, sea sick, probably sledding sick as well. I’ve been known to get sick in a parked car. In short, I’m hyper aware of things that are prone to make someone like me call the moose.

Any time someone mentioned VR to me, I brushed them aside with a tut-tut. “Revolutionary? Nonsense! Why, if I wanted to experience flu-like symptoms, I’d just eat at that food cart down the street!” No amount of immersion or innovation could persuade me to try it again.

Unbeknownst to younger me, VR developers haven’t been ignoring the motion sickness issue. As one of the main barriers of entry next to cost and space requirements, it only makes sense for developers to really want players to actually be able to play the games they’re creating.

The Sea Settles

As of now, devs have cracked the case of the motion sickness hurdle. They’ve figured out how to avoid the uncanny feeling that results in a player’s loss of lunch. In fact, they’ve resolved it so much that they even know how to give the player motion sickness should they so choose.

I had it explained to me that the issue involves the field of view. Too wide and a player’s senses get all screwy, similar to how normal 2D games can mess with you if the screen resolution is stretched in unnatural ways. All a developer has to do is angle the two viewpieces in the VR headset one way or the other to increase or decrease the likelihood of sickness. Science!

The Clouds Open

Knowing of the advancements, I was willing to try again, and in doing so I have experienced child-like wonder in a way that I haven’t done with video games since perhaps the Nintendo 64. It all seems so obvious, but unless you see it for yourself, it won’t register as amazing.

I tried out a pair of demos, the first involving ocean floor exploration, looking at fish in a whale skeleton. The second had me in a medieval-type shack. I thought it was cool until a merchant came through the door, at which point I was awe-struck. This cartoony character wasn’t just an NPC; it was right there. He had weight and depth and was sharing a very real space with me.

Is the magic of VR really just in sharing a space with someone who isn’t there? Maybe. Could this be effectively used in games? Also maybe. Either way, the feeling of fiction hitting reality is powerful in fresh, new ways, and it has me convinced that VR is absolutely worth a second look.

That’s why Caffelli is investing in VR research. We’ve equipped our office space with a permanent high-end VR installation so that we can try out the newest offerings and advancements as they are released, as well as experiment with it in our own passionate style. And by the way, there’s an open invitation to clients who want to see what the tech is all about. Come on by, enjoy some lunch, and try out some VR. We’re excited to fuse it with upcoming projects and continue offering the cutting-edge in marketing.