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What Happened to VR?

April 16, 2018

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kids articles

By: Max Cannon

Virtual Reality, or VR, seemed like it was going to be the next big thing in video games and entertainment when I first started talking about it 2 years ago. However, as time has gone on I've noticed that my PSVR headset seems to just sit in the corner and gather dust more often than offer up truly innovative gaming experiences. 

A Shared Reality

As an early adopter of new tech, I wasn't surprised to see a slow trickle of games since I purchased my PSVR headset in late 2016. I had no doubt that the hardware and software would take time to improve but this really felt like the first true step to making VR accessible to a wider audience. While there have definitely been some awesome titles to hit the platform (my ten-year-old self would get teary-eyed at just the idea of me playing Psychonauts in VR,) it feels like most of the software doesn't fully take advantage of VR's potential. I'd initially thought that VR would become an alternative to playing a game on my TV but after my first week, it became clear that VR wasn't at its best as an isolating experience but a social one.

PSVR's setup problems may be larger but adding support for an analog stick on the Move wands would be welcome.PSVR's setup problems may be larger but adding support for an analog stick on the Move wands would be welcome.Courtesy of PlayStation

Who would have thought that strapping a screen to your face and plugging your ears with headphones would be best enjoyed with a group of friends? The absurdity of playing VR games feels designed to bring out heavy bouts of laughter and those laughs are amplified when shared with loved ones. Of all the stories I share with an old childhood friend, we often recall how hysterically we laughed at his rejection of a cigarette in The London Heist but if either of us played that on our owns it would probably be nothing more than a forgettable smile in our memory. 

The Vive's wireless adapter would be a welcome addition to the more affordable PSVR.The Vive's wireless adapter would be a welcome addition to the more affordable PSVR.Courtesy of HTC

Patient Players Play VR

It doesn't go unnoticed that most of my positive memories come from the first few weeks following my purchase. Every once in awhile I'll decide to boot things up and have a lot of fun, I was still raving about it nearly half a year after I picked up my unit. But the commitment to using VR is something that requires some extreme patience. Setting up my room to play in is around a 20-minute process every time I want to actually use my VR once I plug in my VR box, (because the PSVR's older model doesn't allow HDR I tend to unplug it when I'm not using VR,) move my coffee table, readjust my camera, pull out a larger chair, and calibrate my headset and move wands. Meanwhile, I can be in a round of Fortnite in no more than 3 minutes and with a lot less physical setup.

As beloved a game as Skyrim is, it's still ideal on a traditional platform rather than VR.As beloved a game as Skyrim is, it's still ideal on a traditional platform rather than VR.Courtesy of PlayStation

Of course, some of that setup is just part of the growing process and one day we'll inevitably have wireless headsets and multiple cameras to speed up the process. But that rough process won't deter too much if the game you're playing is of a high enough quality. There are undoubtedly some great games to play but they tend to isolate the players, violent games rather than family-friendly ones that a group could enjoy.

PlayStation Experience 2016 - Gameplay Sizzle Trailer | PSVR

Things are always going to get better in games, and I have no doubt that VR is a part of that growth, but for the time being it feels like things have stagnated. Once creators lean into what makes the platform great, rather than trying to force unnecessary ideas, VR will truly become an experience everyone should enjoy, it's just going to take a little longer than initially thought.

Like most things in life, the best moments in VR are best enjoyed while shared with others.Like most things in life, the best moments in VR are best enjoyed while shared with others.Courtesy of PlayStation
Have Your Say!

What do you think of VR? Is it here to stay or a temporary fad? Share your thoughts below!