Is the future of gaming virtually... reality?
Computer Games and Society
Let me preface by just writing a little bit about what computer gaming is in today's society.
In regards to many things we have today, computer games are a relatively new addition, although have been around longer than many people think.
Many people believe the popular game 'Pong' was the first video game however there were many video game variants before pong came around, some even back in the 50's such as 'Naughts and Crosses' or 'Tennis for Two'.
These facts aside, It's only really been over the last 20 years that gaming has really been on the upwards curve in terms of massive progress and technological advancement.
The caliber and content of game releases in the modern day are that that they force people to take them seriously, some even based on very touchy social and cultural issues.
With these releases becoming the norm games and gaming alike are now starting to be viewed in public circles less stereotypically as something for children or a childish act, how often did you used to hear people say "Games are for children"?
A lot of games now aren't suitable for kids at all!
So now, 2014, where are we?
Well, we started off with big machines, we moved to portable controller blocks with buttons, we then moved to handheld controllers where we have stayed until the present day.
Controller design and technology has progressed massively over the last 20 years but it is still the same principle.
More recently we have started to see the emergence of motion tracking, accessible through several different mediums.
First we have the Wii where it is the controller itself that is the motion tracker and moving the controller determines what happens in the game, then we have body motion which is captured and analyzed through a camera, such as Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Eye.
These are a huge step forward in the evolution of gaming and are of course, great fun.
Now, as fantastic as these are, how many of you still find yourself asking "But what about virtual reality?" "What about full body interaction in popular culture games?"
Well, what if I told you they are already here?
What's that? sound ludicrous? why isn't everyone wearing Xbox Virtual Reality suits? you ask.
Let me introduce you to the Oculus Rift.
Great Motion tracking devices for gaming consoles.
So what is Oculus Rift?
Oculus Rift is a head mounted virtual display headset.
With the Oculus Rift on your head you are totally secluded from your surroundings and it is this that leads to a total immersion in the game you are engaged in, something that has never yet been experienced in the mainstream gaming world.
The Oculus Rift has motion trackers built in so the slightest head movement to the left or right results in that action being projected in the game you are playing adding to the absolute immersion.
Oculus Rift is used with your PC in conjunction with your Keyboard & Mouse, PC Gaming Controller or what ever set p you personally have to play your games with.
After a demonstration of an Oculus Rift prototype at a gaming event called E3 in 2012 by the development company 'Oculus VR' the company started a 'Kickstarter' campaign to be able to further develop the product to where they could manufacture the Oculus Rift. Within hours Oculus gained its goal of $250,000USD and in less than 36 hours, they had gone beyond $1 million. Finally ending with $2.4 million+.
Oculus Rift Developer Kit
The Oculus Rift Developer Kit, often referred to as the 'Dev Kit' was the first fit for development testing release by Oculus VR.
This Developers Kit was the result of the aforementioned Kickstarter Campaign.
The entire purpose of the Developer Kit was to create a unit to get in the hands of developers to start testing the devices functionality and compatibility in the gaming world as well as testing the device for flaws and providing much appreciated feedback on the pros and cons of the device.
Despite it being primarily created for developers thousands of regular gamers bought the Oculus Rift resulting in overwhelmingly positive reviews.
In 2012, it was announced that the developers kit of the Oculus Rift would be given to people who backed their Kickstarter campaign to the tune of $300 or more. 'Dev kit' preorders were made available for $300 on their website starting in September 2012. These kits sold at a rate of 4–5 per minute for the first day, before gradually slowing down. Oculus VR is still accepting orders for the Oculus Rift Dev Kit.
Oculus Rift Consumer Version
A version of the Oculus Rift for the general public is currently in development. This Version of the Rift will be largely improved from the Developer Kit, some improvements that are expected to be included are: Improved head and positional tracking, Full HD resolution are some of the features under consideration for the consumer Oculus Rift. In 2013, a High Definition version of the Rift was shown at E3.
Recently at Consumer Electronics Show in 2014, an updated prototype codenamed "Crystal Cove" was revealed, which includes a new motion tracking system that uses an external camera which tracks infrared dots located in the headset. The new motion tracking system would allow the system to detect motions such as leaning or crouching, which should help reduce sickness experienced by some users of the Developers Kit where the software didn't quite respond to these actions.
The Consumer Version of the Oculus Rift is expected to be released late 2014 to early 2015 with no word on a price figure as of yet.
Purchase the Oculus Rift!
Could you see yourself playing games with an Oculus Rift?
Is the Oculus Rift something that interests you?
Gaming on the Oculus Rift.
The Oculus Rift in my view is a totally new way to play games.
It is in essence an improvement on the current controller, however, it's such an improvement that I believe it can completely revolutionise the way certain games are played and I would go as far as to say it could even create new genres of games.
It adds the ability to look around at will with ease, look over your shoulder, up or down.
It adds a totally new dimension and feel to certain genres such as horror or simulator games to make them even more immersive and even more life like.
All that aside, one of the great things about the Oculus Rift is, as well as developers being able to create specialist games for the Rift it is also compatible with most popular games that are already out, think Call of Duty, Battlefield, yes that's right, talk about battlefield advantage!
Notable mentions of games that are be fantastic on the rift include War-thunder, Alone, Mirrors Edge, Euro Truck Simulator and many more.
The Oculus Rift will completely revolutionise the way we play certain games.
Want to see for yourself? Watch the videos!
Oculus Rift in Action
The Oculus Rift is a fantastic piece of technology, coupled with your standard controller it will completely revolutionise gaming.
However, there are other products that exist, that would go hand in hand with the Oculus Rift and create total immersion in whatever it is you were playing.
Firstly, A decent gaming headset, for immersion first you need to be immersed in the sound of the game, A high quality gaming headset will do the job perfectly for you, 'Turtle Beach' are a very popular choice of headset for gamers.
Secondly, A joystick, Imagine playing the Oculus Rift with a plane simulator, sitting there, every turn of the head is simulated in your virtual cockpit, headphones on with the sound of engines roaring around you and joystick in hand to complete the experience.
Thirdly, the 'Razer Hydra'. The Hydra is 2 handheld motion trackers, similar to that of the 'Wii mote' this would act as your hands or in some games entire arms, as you wave around your arms holding the trackers, your arms in the game would wave around too, the Razer Hydra is now available, see below for details.
Fourthly, the Logitech G27 Steering Wheel. Quite possibly the best gaming steering wheel on the market at the moment the Logiitech G27 and the Oculus Rift would go hand in hand with racing games and driving simulators alike. See below for details on purchasing a Logitech G27.
Lastly, and a little more futuristic is the 'Virtuix Omni'. The Virtuix Omni takes it reality to the next level, giving you the ability to stand up and walk, or run in virtual worlds with the natural use of their own legs. Moving completely naturally in virtual reality creates an unprecedented level of immersion that just cannot be experienced sitting down.
Virtuix Omni are now taking pre-orders for their system for $499.00 for one or $1019.00 for a dual set. These are expected to ship early 2014.
You can purchase the Virtuix Omni here: http://shop.virtuix.com/category-s/1817.htm
To see exactly what I mean, check out these awesome videos.
Everything else on the Oculus Rift.
That's right, although the Oculus Rift's main use and majority of sales will be gaming related, games aren't all the Oculus Rift is good for.
From designing prototype car plans, Architectural designing to even controlling robots in space!
The Oculus Rift has opened a gateway to revolutionise certain industries.
Don't believe me? See for yourself!
There's so much more I could say about the potential of a device like this, within the gaming industry and out of it.
I don't know if people are as excited as I am by the Rift but I do know this, done right, this could completely change the way we play games such as survival horror to simulators to the way we control robots on the battlefield or design the cities structures of the future.
To me, that's worth getting excited about.
I would love to hear what you guys think of this technology and how you believe it will influence the gaming community!