VR is beautiful. That’s what we notice first about this new technology—it’s visually striking, drawing us into three-dimensional worlds in a way no other medium is able to do. It’s a beauty that can be seen from all angles, and you can inspect it like a sculpture or appreciate its staging like a film.
VR’s incredible visual potential often leads us to assume that graphics are what’s most immersive. And while the way a game looks is not unimportant—in fact, it’s a large part of preventing motion sickness in players—there’s more to VR than that. Immersion goes beyond looks, and the best VR stories are proving that it’s narrative, not graphics, that makes the difference in immersion.
VR is a unique medium, and its full potential has yet to be realized. We know it’s great for gaming, that it’s a powerful new exploration of film, and that it has numerous other practical and entertainment uses, but we aren’t yet sure how far we can take it. What we do know is that you can’t beat an experience developed specifically for VR with one that’s simply upgraded from a 2D platform.
That’s not to say a ported game can’t be great—many of them are, especially those that felt like a natural fit for virtual reality before the technology was feasible. But those games that are made with this technology in mind enjoy a clear advantage, as they can make full use of the potential of the platforms they’re intended for.
Virtual reality is a developing medium.
As gamers and developers alike discover the potential of this new technology together, there are certain questions that need to be answered as to how best to explore digital spaces in a way that feels comfortable, while still presenting an open world that players can properly engage with. Continue reading
It’s important to be nice to other people.
Little things like greeting others with a smile, or trying to not invade other people’s personal space, make interacting more enjoyable for everyone. Conversely, inappropriate or confrontational behavior can easily offend others or make them feel uncomfortable.
There are few communities surrounding video games that are as dedicated to innovation and creativity as the modders.
Whether they’re recreating the entirety of the Gameboy title Link’s Awakening in the game engine for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or simply hacking Skyrim to replace all the dragons with Macho Man Randy Savage, there’s no denying that gaming has more variety and flavor as a result of the modding community’s inventive adaptations of popular titles. Continue reading
While being hundreds or even thousands of miles away from someone you care about is never easy, thanks to innovations in communication technology such as Skype, Facetime, and instant messengers, people are able to keep in contact in ways that past generations could only have dreamed of.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the only way to keep in contact with someone on another continent was through the postal service. Continue reading
Looking through the eyes of another person is a powerful experience.
It’s often hard to relate to people who harbor a different worldview than us. We tend to wonder why people with different political or religious beliefs see things the way they do. Even when we’re doing our best to sympathize with the trials and challenges that others face, to truly understand a person’s point of view can be challenging when we don’t have first-hand experience of what they’ve been through. Continue reading
When I was younger, sometimes I would lay down to sleep after an evening spent rotating blocks in Tetris and have a hard time turning off my brain. Behind my eyelids, in the dark of the night, I could still see a familiar pattern of falling geometric shapes. My brain was trying to solve a puzzle that wasn’t there anymore.
Virtual reality is a wonderful, immersive tool that can provide us with hours of realistic, believable entertainment. But what happens when we turn it off? If Tetris can lodge itself firmly in a ten-year old’s mind, you can be sure VR’s going to have an impact that lasts long after you’ve taken off the headset. Continue reading
At this year’s PAX West, there was a singular moment when I discovered how powerful virtual reality could be. I was playing a demo for a VR title and found myself struggling with the controls, repeatedly moving my hand while trying to interact with an object. After a couple of failures, it dawned on me what the problem was—I was only thinking in two dimensions, not three. Sure enough, I extended my hand a little further and hit the sweet spot, allowing me to continue with the game.
Suddenly, it was like somebody had flipped a switch in my brain. This is what VR can do that no other gaming form can. I’ve traversed a multitude of gaming worlds, appreciated small details in any number of gorgeously-rendered titles, and engaged with more expertly-crafted environments and cohesive worldbuilding than I dare try to count—but never have I felt as though I, personally, was really, physically there. Continue reading
Among all gaming communities, there are none quite as dedicated as the speedrunners.
Playing the same segment of a game over and over to find the quickest way to complete a challenging level, seeking out bugs and glitches to skip large portions of play, and even counting motion frames to achieve pixel-perfect maneuvers, speedrunners pride themselves on breaking games apart to finish them in as little time as possible.