“So, do you know anything about this thing called an Oculus Rift?”
My personal trainer asked me this while I was doing squats at the gym. I was taken off guard for two reasons. First, it’s difficult to answer a question while you’re doing an exercise like squats. And second, It seemed odd for someone who isn’t a gamer to be asking questions about a device that is usually only discussed in gaming circles. After setting the bar back on the squat rack, I considered my answer and explained it in the most lamens terms I could think of.
“Essentially it’s a headset that you wear to play games in virtual reality, rather than on a monitor or TV,” I said.
“Ok… so how much does it cost?” he asked.
At this point, I then realized where this was going. My trainer has two kids, both of whom play games and then I had to stress how much of an investment this was going to be. But in addition to that, I explained why I wasn’t going to be getting one. There’s something that I think needs to be said about not just the Oculus Rift, but about VR headsets in general. As much excitement as there might be for them, I’m certainly not going to be lining up for one anytime soon. Here’s why.
When it was revealed that the Oculus Rift cost $600 USD and that you would need a fairly powerful PC to run it, it became apparent that this new gaming market isn’t going to be a cheap one. Not by a long shot. We don’t even know the pricing for the HTC Vive or the Playstation VR, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the same price range. Gaming has become an expensive enough pastime as it is. The last thing I want to do right now is pay tons of money for something that might have trouble getting off the ground.
What if VR flops?
Remember when every TV manufacturer under the sun was making 3D TVs because that was supposed to be the next big thing in television and display technology? Remember when it was stupidly expensive and turned out to be a gimmick? Well, the same thing could happen to VR. Game developers and publishers are taking a big risk on this new hardware and hoping that it pays off. I could be wrong, and it could be the next frontier in the gaming industry, but there’s still a chance that we could be laughing at Oculus and HTC for even bothering a year or two for now. I mean, look at VirtualBoy (low blow I know, but you get the point).
Augmented Reality is much cooler (and potentially safer)
Something that is being developed as for not just the gaming industry but others as well is augmented reality (AR) devices. If you’re not familiar with the concept, AR is taking an image of what you (or, in this case, the camera) sees and modifies it, such as adding a hologram of a character or text on a surface. Ok so maybe that’s not the best description, but it has tons of applications for both businesses and consumers. In fact, Nintendo has already incorporated AR into its 3DS system’s functionality. It’s not perfect, but it’s a neat concept that they could expand on in the future. Microsoft showed the results of its latest research at E3 2015 with the HoloLens, and it has me excited for the final product. Plus, if there’s one thing on AR’s side it’s that you’re not cut off from the world in the same way as VR. For some headsets, you will have to consider the space you play your games in so that you’re not hurting yourself by walking into furniture, or walls.
Only time will tell if VR headsets like the Oculus Rift will revolutionize the gaming world like some expect them to. I know I’m not in the majority with these opinions. But I also know that I’m not the only one either. In any case, I’ll be doing my gaming in this reality in the mean time.