A terrible illness is spreading to gamers worldwide, instigated by the revolutionary Oculus Rift. When was the
last time that a videogame made you feel physically sick? It's a rare occurrence, one that I hope does not continue when I get my own personal Oculus.
I went to the Eurogamer Expo with one main goal.
"At all costs, regardless of queueing, try the Oculus Rift."
For those unaware, The Oculus is a virtual reality headset which allows you to "look around" the game world by simply moving your head. It uses two small screens to create depth of field and in short, it's very clever.
|The Oculus Headset|
I got my wish very early on in the day, we went right to the stand and were only waiting for about 20mins. There were a few games on offer; Hawken, Warbird, Surgeon Simulator and maybe another, I'm not too sure as I was always gunning to have a go on Hawken.
|The Oculus Rift Stand at Eurogamer|
So you sit down, align the mask and immerse yourself in another world. In Hawken we had a tech demo where you were able to run around in the mech suit at your leisure and jet pack around the limited stage. You naturally look around, seeing what the Oculus is capable of and it lives up to the 360 degree viewing angle, it is incredible and surreal. I wanted to look around and just see what the headset allowed me to do but it is heavy, a little awkward and so I tended to face the same direction whilst looking left and right to see the guns reload.
After flying as high as the game would allow me, I dropped right to the floor and instinctively went to crouch (in real life) as if I were really bracing for the fall. However, this was also where I started to feel a little sick. The same sickness you get when on a stormy boat, it is obviously a motion based nausea which is caused by the balance of your inner ear not matching up to your vision and physical movements (or something similar to that). A little further research suggests that 33% of people are susceptible to this feeling and up to 66% when the motion is severe.
I paused the game and was actually very impressed by the heads up menu that was in the foreground, which reminded me I was actually seeing in 3D. That gives massive kudos to how natural the view is, that I didn't even notice the depth of field.
I tried to carry on, I had actually mocked someone before my turn for quitting before their go was up. There I was, soldiering on due to some kind of embarrassment that I was letting my gaming heritage down - I wasn't enjoying it anymore and so I very reluctantly pulled the headset off just as I very nearly lost the battle to the sickness.
It is literally possible though. The way your body is disconnected from the sensory world that your eyes and ears experience. Your sense of touch and balance try to get involved but it is working with a limited set of nervous reactions. The fact is some people can do it a lot better than others.
Turns out I was the only one of my group to feel ill, even the guy who tried Warbird doing loop-de-loops said he felt fine and my other friend who played Surgeon Simulator said it was bloody epic.
I take nothing away from the developers or the game, it is a great piece of technology. Which makes it even more of a shame that I didn't enjoy it. I spoke with various PR people around the Expo and they all agreed that some people take some time to get their "VR Legs" and I hope that I can overcome the motion because it would be such a massive disappointment to miss out on the Oculus.
I wonder if this will have an effect on the sales or even the tech development of the headset. It would be good to hear from any of you guys who have had a go to see if it was affected you the same way. Did it change your opinion? This game made me physically ill based on biology. That's quite a statement!
It's a revolutionary movement in gaming. This is a completely new way of playing and it consumes you. I will leave you with a clip of legendary YouTuber PewDiePie allowing himself to get a little too involved in his playthrough of Alone.
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