FFD: Virtual Reality – Revolution or Gimmick?

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Virtual Reality, like stereoscopic 3D, comes back every decade to try and convince us that staring at a 2D screen just isn’t good enough. The 90’s saw a number of head-mounted Virtual reality units that were meant to take gaming to a new level – including the iGlasses from Virtual IO.

Check this out, from 1995.

Considering roughly none of you have ever heard of these, it’s safe to say that they just didn’t take off. the biggest problem with these sort of things is that they’re pretty expensive, heavy, unwieldy – and make people want to throw up.

Lately, we’ve been hearing a heck of a lot of noise about a Virtual Reality revolution, thanks mostly to the Oculus Rift, which looks to address these issues and make consumer-level Virtual Reality a viable platform. Pretty much the very things that Virtual I-O promised in 1995.

The Rift has high-res screens, lower latency, better head- and positional tracking, low persistence and importantly, support from Valve. It’s also got tech people like John Carmack excited enough to leave the company he founded, id, to concentrate entirely on VR.

Having used the Rift, I have to say that it really is impressive, and could potentially lead to some incredibly immersive experiences (possibly too immersive, but that’s a different argument). It’s undoubtedly an exciting bit of technology – but will it actually revolutionise games, or is it all a novelty gimmick, with history set to repeat itself?

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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