A few days ago I was watching one of many of the Star Trek Holodeck episodes and chuckled to myself at how far fetched we thought that was years ago. I promptly dimmed my lights and slid on my Oculus Rift headset.
“Computer”, I commanded, “Load Yush program 1”
My Alexa home assistant promptly informed me that she didn’t know what that was… We are in an interesting era of home entertainment. What was once thought science fiction is now easily in the hands of consumers. Gone are the arcades where youths gathered to enjoy the latest in electronic gaming. As time marches forward so does the gaming landscape, and its newest entry is Virtual Reality.
Arguably one could say that this isn’t new, and they would be right. The major players hit the scene in 2016, but they also came with hefty price tags. Not to mention having a machine capable of supporting it. Sony did its part and also made a more consumer-friendly option but paled in comparison to the others. Finally 3 years later, VR systems are more popular and development is well underway for next Gen and new entries alike. Though, with all this progress I feel that we are still missing some things that will bring us to our sci-fi future.
There are peripherals for the HTC Vive for waist and leg tracking, and gloves available for both. Key in low-friction walking surfaces with a belt, or the Ready Player One-esqe Omni Directional Treadmill, and you’ve got a much more expensive cost of entry into this hobby. With these things in mind, we are in an interesting time with what the future holds. Some options are a little cheaper than others, but the more you add, the more you take yourself out of the immersion. The Virtuix Omni Treadmill is a great idea that lets you walk and run with the clever use of a curved walking surface, low-friction shoe pads, and a belt harness to keep you from falling over. But with all that mobility, you are still tied to one location and are very aware that you are still only standing in your living room in a fancy plastic dish instead of running through the wilderness of Skyrim chasing down a dragon.
With all the little extra gadgets standing in for the dream of total virtual reality, we seem to be losing the very thing that we are aiming for. Don’t get me wrong, I love it all, and if I could afford to have it all I would. I am just hopeful for not only what the future will bring us, but also that we are on the right track to take gaming to the next level.
What are your thoughts?