Sunday, 31 January 2016

VR and my Failure to Give a Much of a Shit

I noticed a post on Polygon today, entitled "Is Virtual Reality the Future of Gaming?". It's one of their community discussion posts, but I tend to avoid that sort of thing because... well, let's say gaming discussion boards tend to have a high percentage of dicks (to be clear, I've not taken part in Polygon's discussions - it may well be a dick-free zone). Anyway, my 2c is here.

I haven't tried any of the new VR kits that are starting to appear. My own experience of VR is limited to 5 minutes playing on an open-air setup in Covent Garden decades ago, where I spent most of the time wondering variously what the fuck I was supposed to do and how the fuck I was supposed to do it before getting about a minute's worth of properly shooting the blocky pink things that were chasing me.

Now, I know that the new wave of VR setups are a big step up from what I experienced, but I'm still struggling to give much of a shit about it. The big draw of VR is how immersive it is, but a lack of immersion (immersivity? Immersiveness? Take your pick, I don't know) has never really been a weakness of gaming. Games like Ultima Online, Thief, Half-Life, they didn't rely on their visual realism to draw you into their worlds. And if I look around me now to the most graphically realistic games available, there's little that particularly interests me. The main reason is that, too often, visuals act as glitter on the turd.

Thinking back to my own VR experience in Covent Garden that day, I think it's telling that the game they used to demo the technology was a shooter. I think that's likely to be an omen for the new wave of VR. What I see in the future of VR is basically more immersive shooters, and that's just not something that excites me anymore. First Person Shooters are the mashed potato of the gaming world - nice enough, but you're not going to get excited by it because you've had it so many times before and adding chives or whatever to it doesn't change what it essentially is.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of exciting stuff that could be done - look at Tilt Brush, for example - but I strongly suspect that on the whole, we're going to be getting more of the same in terms of content and, for me, content is the achilles heel of 3D gaming at the moment.The rise of indie games has largely been in 2D, probably because of the extra workload involved in 3D, but it's brought us games with original concepts (think Papers Please, for example). When we start to see that kind of change in the 3D gaming world, that's when I may start getting excited about VR.

Now get off my lawn.

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