Up For Debate - Is Virtual Reality Really The Future Of Gaming

Written by Sam Welch on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 12:00 PM

We can only improve the visual fidelity of our games on a two dimensional screen in front of us to a certain point before it becomes futile because our eyes can’t detect the individual pixels or frames. Clearly, developers know this and are on the lookout for the next new way that we’ll experience games. There have been a few new frontiers in immersive gaming in recent years - larger screens, motion controls, 3D technology and virtual reality.

But all of these have been tried before and none of them have yet really caught on - why should virtual reality be any different? 3D tech was supposed to become ubiquitous in the 1950s and the 1980s and is trying again right now in the 2010s , why should it manage this time, or will we see it again in the 2040s? Virtual reality had a go in the late 80s and early 90s itself - does anyone remember the Virtual Boy? If you don't, there's a good reason why not, it practically caused a global shortage of sick bags. Of course each time these technologies have another go at catching on, they have improved, but inevitably the better technology that has let them improve also keeps them expensive. Is it possible to stop this cycle?

I doubt I need to tell you how impressed testers have been with the Oculus Rift - the improvements in processing power over the last 20 years mean that the experience it can produce is far more impressive than its predecessors. There have been headaches and nausea, sure, but the same teething pains affected the people travelling faster than 20 mph for the first time on early trains and as a species we lived through that.

Best guesses for the initial cost of an Oculus Rift headset are almost as much as a current generation games console, but the waves it's been making have inspired competing developments from Sony (Project Morpheus) and Google (Cardboard) which will surely bring prices down over time. Besides, we already happily pay way more than that for a decent screen.

Maybe if just one version of virtual reality catches on the whole industry will find its place in our everyday lives, but up until now history begs to differ. If it's another tech that endlessly tries and fails to capture our imagination is it simply an expensive waste of time? After all, the really huge technologies that have successfully implanted themselves in our lives in the last century were all expected to fail.

The television would never catch on, mobile phones were far too impractical to be taken seriously, and what use could an internet possibly be when we already have libraries? Also, it might be worth noting that these technologies all basically help us communicate information better, while virtual reality helps us better isolate ourselves - could this be holding it back?

The floor is yours. Is virtual reality doomed as a fad, or is it about to reach a mold-breaking generation plateau that will change how we experience entertainment forever? There are a LOT of ways this one could go!

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12:39 Dec-31-2014

simply put, no.

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10:51 Dec-31-2014

I see great potential for VR in first person cockpit games, current examples are Elite Dangerous, Euro Truck Simulator 2, Assetto Corsa... Basically having your hands on a joystick eliminates the problem of user input, playing a FPS with mouse and keyboard would be hard since you can't see what key you are pressing (imagine playing arma3 for instance).

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14:13 Dec-31-2014

Yeah, I've seen some pretty cool examples of War Thunder and Occulus. THAT works! But FPS games - not so much. Looking around in a car/cockpit while sat still and controlling the aircraft/ship/train/car - yes. Controlling the character as well as having to look around - not so seamless...

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07:12 Dec-31-2014

Somehow I just thought of Sword Art Online with this VR. o-o

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00:50 Dec-31-2014

I think I'd be better for the idea of a virtual space. Like you can't aford 3 screens, but you can buy a pair of goggles and see 3 (or more) virtual desktop spaces to work with instead. Also AMZING for small spaces where you don't have the room or hookups for even 1 real screen- you can have the headset that just take up a few inches in front of your face but simulateas a multi screen enviorment.

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00:34 Dec-31-2014

I dont really like all that 3D and VR etc. I want a full dive virtual reality!! (sword art online) :D

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22:27 Dec-30-2014

I think VR is about to make some really big waves in the gaming market soon. The only thing that could be better is a full hologram setup. A holodeck like on Star Trek the next generation would be a nice improvement for games in the future. Until then I am still excited to possibly get "The Lawnmower Man" gaming experience. I've been waiting for over 20 years for what Oculus Rift offers. :D

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19:30 Dec-30-2014

Is it the future? of course it is, the new standard however, it definitely is not.

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16:25 Dec-30-2014

If treadmills that you have to walk on in order to move in the game count as VR, then yes, definitely :P

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15:58 Dec-30-2014

It was supposedly 'the future of gaming' for the past 30 years, nothing is changing drastically. I, for one, would not want to look and feel like an idiot prancing around my room/table with a massive VR headset (or kinect). Playing games is my hobby and I took it up because I like sitting on my butt all day looking at the screen. If I wanted to move, I would have taken up something else :P

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15:58 Dec-30-2014

No its not, you try playing Red Alert 3, Command and Conquer, Saints Row, World of Tanks etc. on a VR set, trust me even an FPS game is not fit for the VR because you get motion sick every 30-40 minutes.

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15:56 Dec-30-2014

Just don't go Sword Art Online level of VR...

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17:22 Dec-30-2014

Aside from the whole death thing, that level of VR would be the absolute best

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12:56 Jan-03-2015

Who the hell downvote my comment?! You piece of $#!+ !!

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15:24 Dec-30-2014

Nope, gotta stick to buttons, keys and screens. No need to fix something if it's broken if you know what I mean.

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15:19 Dec-30-2014

Gamers have never succumbed to a gimmick in the past, why would they do so now?

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17:22 Dec-30-2014

...marketing..? :D

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13:56 Dec-30-2014

I think VR is going to be sucessful in racing games and Star Citizen. Any other genre and it feels weird

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13:55 Dec-30-2014

PS4 should upgrade to atleast 4k gaming before going for the virtual reality.

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15:24 Dec-30-2014

lol. won't happen.

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00:57 Dec-31-2014

I know, but virtual reality is better if using 4k instead of 1080p. I know it's not going to happen but it's better with 4k than virtual reality.

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13:42 Dec-30-2014

Of course it is ! I just shouted the same question yesterday. There will be nothing physical in the future , I think so :)

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13:54 Dec-30-2014

dude, dude, dudlie, physical is always better :)

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17:20 Dec-30-2014

The day we have to make love using computers is the day I will have to inject a bullet into my brain using a firearm...

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17:28 Dec-30-2014

Sorry dude, I believe there are already plenty of virtual mmo's that feature graphic sexual content, second life for instance.

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19:24 Dec-30-2014

oh man, now he's going to have to kill himself!. I hope you feel bad...

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20:38 Dec-30-2014

It's ok, we don't HAVE TO do the computer sex yet :)

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13:38 Dec-30-2014

3D TVs have all but failed for the same reasons that VR is going to fail in it's current state. 1) Real people don't like wearing stupid sh*t on their head for hours at a time. 2) Real people are social creatures. 3) Lots of people have eye or medical problems that will keep them from being able to use this, for instance I can't watch 3D TV for more than 15 minutes w/ getting a headache.

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15:22 Dec-30-2014

Fun fact: Not everyone can see stereoscopic 3D images. :D

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17:21 Dec-30-2014

Extension of the fun fact: Some people are blind on one eye.

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17:26 Dec-30-2014

It will be a niche thing only, just like 3D TVs. The future, for the moment at least, seems to be in providing people with bigger TVs with higher pixel counts. 8K will be more common than virtual reality in 10 years time. Btw, I love my 4K TV even though my rig isn't capable of gaming at 4K. :(

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13:15 Dec-30-2014

it will be awesome if they make something like SAO to use but not Die O_O if we lose

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13:54 Dec-30-2014

If something like Virtual reality from SAO came out, I would buy that stuff so fast

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13:10 Dec-30-2014

I think that we can say something is really putting us in a virtual reality when all 5 of our senses are involved and, as someone else pointed, there must be a more intuitive way to play it because joysticks and mouse break the VR created.

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13:01 Dec-30-2014

The way I see it VR is in a catch 22. In order to be the future of gaming the technology need to advance further and faster then it is now to be seen as more then a gimmick, But to do that there has to be a profitable market to make R&D houses apply more funds and other resources that the gimmicky model in the line now will not generate.

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13:02 Dec-30-2014

So in other words, To make the needed tech there needs to be a bigger market. But to make that market you need the better tech :/

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