Beyond VR games

Today I tried a demo on the SONY Morpheus VR game system. It was thrilling and fun and completely absorbing. I was playing a computer game, and I was also completely inside the game, surrounded on all sides by its exciting and fast paced world.

Yet there was something about it that was not at all different from my prior experience playing computer games. Fundamentally, it wasn’t about VR as something new, but rather VR as an extension of something completely familiar.

When you are playing a computer game and you find yourself, say, racing down a highway with bad guys all around, your mind pretty much goes with it. You give yourself over to the game’s world.

This is the “Magic Circle” contract: The actor on stage is Hamlet, the words on paper are Lizzie Bennet, the 30 foot tall face projected on a flat surface is Indiana Jones. We know none of it is real, but we agree to suspend our disbelief while we are inside the magic circle. We leave reality behind for the duration.

As I was playing a thrilling chase game with the SONY Morpheus (which really is a fabulous system), I was still sitting in a chair, experiencing essentially the same kind of game experience I had experienced in other computer games. Just in a more immersive way.

This is quite different from our research, and the research of our collaborators, in which participants wearing VR headsets literally walk around in physical space, voting with their feet as they experience another world. I suspect that this difference — the fact that your physical body is literally committing to the choices you make — creates an experience beyond VR itself.

The SONY Morpheus does a fantastic job of creating a vivid and fully realized game world. I think what we are after is something different: A way to create a vivid and fully realized new reality.

4 Responses to “Beyond VR games”

  1. Stephan Ahonen says:

    Curious, are you aware of The Void VR Park at all (https://thevoid.com/)? I used to work with one of the developers who is working on that. They’ve built a physical space corresponding to the geometry of their game world, so you can reach out and touch the walls that you see.

  2. admin says:

    Yes, I’m aware of Void. It is indeed an example of the “voting with your feet” direction for VR. Although I’m not a big fan of the bulky backpacks their players must wear. We are doing it without the backpacks. Hopefully future versions of Void will as well.

  3. Paul says:

    That equipment at Void is all temp. When they open, it will be much different and a majority of it will be tech no one else has .

  4. admin says:

    That’s good to know. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Hopefully it won’t involve backpacks. :-)

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