I remember the jump from 2D gaming to three dimensions—it wasn’t always a pretty picture (literally). Low polygon counts in Mario Kart 64 were responsible for more than a few nauseating moments as the speed of movement in the game’s 3D world became too much for many players still unaccustomed to the perspective.
With the next leap in technology, the struggle begins again: one of the big challenges that virtual reality developers are facing is nausea, as players’ brains struggle to make sense of the virtual world around them. Some developers are even experimenting with including a digital nose to make the VR display better match what the human eye is used to seeing in its peripheral vision. But what about the rest of the view?
There’s an air of respectability involved in curling up with a good book and getting immersed in a story on the written page. Coworkers will nod and smile if you mention your weekend plans of getting started on a reread of The Lord of the Rings or diving into some Sherlock Holmes. But that same respect is very rarely given to people who dive deep into an interactive story in the form of role-playing video games.
Virtual reality provides a variety of new ways to explore familiar gaming worlds.
Some developers have already begun planning out how VR could augment the experience of playing classic games, and there are multiple available emulators which output a fun retro arcade or 90s bedroom environment in VR.
But as much as gaming is about looking forward to new technologies, there’s always a place for old classics. Plenty of old school video games would work fantastically well in virtual reality, and the unique perspective offered by this tech could breathe new life into gaming’s most iconic titles.
Whether you’ve run out of rings and you’re dodging fireballs in Sonic the Hedgehog, creeping around under a cardboard box and trying desperately to avoid detection in Metal Gear Solid, or simply forced to make a difficult decision that’ll affect the course of events in games like The Walking Dead, there are plenty of interactive experiences that can play with our emotions and fill us with suspense.
Game developers are always on the lookout for increasingly successful methods of making gamers connect with the game, invest deeply in their character, and truly feel suspense when something goes wrong (or is about to).
With VR games, though, comes an unprecedented opportunity: games can become more immersive—and therefore, more intense, scary, and suspenseful—than ever before.