Choice, not Change – The Thoughts of a Young Fogey with Regards to VR

Hello you!

So yeah, despite what some people tell me, I feel pretty old these days at 28. This feels especially more pronounced when I work with the fresh faced, talented and eager young staff here on Gaming Respawn. There are some lads and ladies on this here site whose first actual proper console was the PS2. The freaking PS2! I’m old enough to have played the original Nintendo Entertainment System when it was still a somewhat relevant console, and some of these bright young things couldn’t name even so much as a Mega Drive game if you paid them!

There’s nothing wrong with that of course. I know for a fact there are Atari and Sinclair players who would scoff at me for not being properly retro because I don’t own an original 2600 with Space Invaders. It’s a nasty little habit we sometimes have within video game culture. We’re constantly demanding that people show off their credentials, that they “prove” that they really love games. You can’t just be a fighting game enthusiast, you have to know every single combo with every single character on Mortal Kombat II or you’re not “hardcore” enough. You can’t be a true fan of Japanese RPG’s if you haven’t completed Final Fantasy VII upside down with your head in a fish bowl.

You see it all the time with people getting wound up at “casual gamers” who might only buy 3-4 games a year and want a slightly easier experience when they do. BOO! How dare you not like harder more niche games like we do! You’re killing our pastime with your FIFA and COD playing ways. Get out of our hobby you horrid casual scum!!!

So rest assured, I don’t look down on my colleagues for not owning a Super Nintendo. That would be stupid and rather pointless, as me haranguing them over it is hardly going to make them rush out and buy one. Heck, even I mostly get SNES games through the Nintendo Store on my Wii U these days. I haven’t played an actual physical SNES in a while, but I was tucking in to a delightful portion of Donky Kong Country on my Wii U over Christmas. So yeah, I’m not a complete Luddite living in fear of change. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing previous gen games on a virtual console. I may be old and grumpy, but I’m at least practical. I even have a kindle fire that I watch YouTube on and read books. In fact, when I’m home, I hardly have the bloody thing out of my hands these days. I may not be fully “down with the kids” but I’m at least living in 2006 as opposed to 1986 when it comes to technology.

That being said, I can’t help but be a big old stick in the mud when it comes to things like VR. The main reason I’m against VR is similar to the reason I’m against 3D movies, and that’s that I just can’t use engage in them with any comfort. Fellow GR writer Alec had some VR stuff that he let me try at his flat once and I felt like I was going to be sick. I wear glasses, which means every VR headset and pair of 3D glasses is automatically uncomfortable unless I have my contact lenses in, and when you have to plan your gaming sessions around whether you have enough medical supplies, it really takes away from the experience and turns it more into an ordeal as opposed to a fun excursion from real life.

I’m glad the Oculus Rift sold out in 14 minutes. Genuinely I am. I’m never going to use the thing but if there are people out there who want to use it, then that’s great! I truly hope they enjoy their purchase and good luck to the manufacturers as they strive to sell more. So long as I can happily go on gaming my way without having to give VR a second glance, I hope the people who dig VR get a fantastic experience. What I don’t want, and what I fear, is for VR to become the accepted, and only, way gaming is done.

I’m all for choice and variety, as long as what I like from gaming still exists. Does anyone else find it a massive ballache (Or vadgeache if you’re one of them there ladies) that these days when you buy a game for your 8th Gen console, you have to sit there for at least half an hour for the chuffing thing to load before you can even start playing? Remember when games weren’t actually released until they were finished? I don’t recall having to sit there for 45 minutes waiting for a patch to download before I could start playing Metal Gear Solid 2. No in that case it was because the opening cinematic cut scene had to finish (Boom Boom!) but at least that was actually something made for the game before it actually came out. Console gaming’s biggest draws were always the following

It was simple and uncomplicated. You plug the console in to the mains, attach it to your TV, plug in a controller, insert your game and then you’re done. It takes all of five minutes

It was cheaper than buying a PC.

It didn’t take up much space as it was never more than a green/black/grey/white/greenish grey black and white box, with a few cables hanging out the back of it.

It provided instant gratification. You start the machine and you play the game. You didn’t have to fanny around with installations, make sure you had the right machine requirements or pour through page after page of an instruction manual.

In a world where Virtual Reality wins and becomes the accepted form of all gaming, things are only going to get worse. You’d be telling me that we’d be looking at a future where you not only have to pay for the console itself, at a mark-up because this VR stuff ain’t going to be cheap, but you also have to find room for all the additional hardware that comes with the console so the VR will work? Not only that, you’ll have to spend ages moving furniture and reading manuals to make sure everything works and, to top it all off, you then have to sit there waiting three quarters of an hour for the game to update before you can even play the bastard thing?

Sorry, but that’s just not for me. It might be for you dear reader, in which case I say great. Seriously, that’s fine. I’m not one of these people who thinks the way I like things is the best way of doing things and everyone should follow suit. I’m just a man who knows what he likes and, so long as I can get it, I’m just fine with other people getting what they like. So long as VR is just an optional extra, then I’m fine with it. And not in the “Ross is FINE that Joey and Rachel are dating way” either. I mean I’m legitimately okay with it. I’m not even going to make Fajitas or anything.

You’ve always got the choice these days to go and see a movie in 2D if you want. You also don’t have to own a Connect to use an Xbox One anymore. Some people love seeing a movie in 3D and some people love interacting with their robotic Connect buddy. Hey, if you want a creepy 1984 allegory sitting on top of your game console, go freaking nuts, but it’s not for me and I’m sad to say it never will be.

So yeah, I may be against change, but I’m not against choice because ultimately choice means I don’t have to change, and neither do you.

Thanks for reading

Peace Out

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6 Comment

D.G.M. January 11, 2016 - 15:57

EVERYTHING you wrote in this article, I agree with it. VR is not for me either, I don’t really even care about trying it. I’ll give it a shot if I get a chance, but I’m definitely not buying it. Excellent feature!

Daniel Choppen January 11, 2016 - 22:39

I guess I think differently to you Mike and the other, evil, Dan. I like the idea of VR, I really do. Anything that involves a cock-pit or minimal movement is going to be fantastic and I’m not gonna lie, I like the idea of watching Netflix on a virtual 1000 inch TV. But not only that, VR is still very early days and I believe that it has already proven to be less of a gimmick then 3D and therefore they can’t really be compared.

To think that any big budget games will be solely created for the VR is just naive in my opinion. Sure there’ll be some indies with an interesting concept that explore VR *ahem* “Keep Talking and No One Explodes” *ahem* but I can’t see any point in the future where there won’t be an option to play the games regularly.

Not to mention the very limited capabilities of the current gen consoles. The current gen systems can barely do 30fps and it makes me motion sick after long periods of time. How the hell are they meant to do any decent games, at a playable frame rate at an acceptable resolution? They won’t, I’m not really sure what the Playstation VR will achieve (but thats a different story). My Xbox can’t even play at 1080p 60fps on most games, where as my PC will happily chug along displaying just about anything in 4k at 60fps. I think its a very fair bet that VR is aimed pretty much exclusively at the hardcore PC enthusiast. I mean you have to have at least a 970 to run it (according to Oculus themselves). This is very very cutting-edge software that for some reason has had the consumer-level tarnish posted all over it.

And look at Kinect, Microsoft sold around 24 million of those damn things. Did the Kinect-only games sell? No of course they didn’t, publishers won’t make that same mistake again.

TL;DR. VR isn’t a gimmick; consoles won’t run it well.

There isn’t any need to worry about the way you game changing.

EDIT: case in point…

Mike Fitzgerald January 12, 2016 - 06:26

I wouldn’t say there’s not ANY reason to worry. If VR gets popular enough, whose to say that one of the big developers won’t release the next game in a popular series as a VR only game? I bet you Square would happily sacrifice a Tomb Raider game to the VR God’s if they though it would be profitable

Daniel Choppen January 12, 2016 - 14:25

But is there any possible way for VR to get popular enough in the short-term? I mean its an extremely niche product for a very slim portion of PC enthusiasts. It would be commercial suicide to produce a big budget game solely for a system like that wouldn’t?

The Tomb Raider reboot sold about 8.5 million copies. According to the Steam Hardware survey and based on the facts from Oculus, just over 6% of gamers have a PC beefy enough to run an Oculus on a single GPU. The current Steam account number is around is 125 million we can assume then that there are 7,500,000 Steam users that have a PC good enough to run an Oculus. So even if 100% of Steam users with a powerful enough single-cpu PC ALL buy buy an Oculus and then ALL buy a game, that sales would total out at around 7.5 million. That is of course only the current figures and over time it will definitely grow. But hopefully that shows that its just a bit outlandish to assume that a big publisher will produce a game solely for use with Oculus.

Apocolyptica January 12, 2016 - 15:55

You realize you are not required to stand at all when playing VR right?

Dirkster_Dude January 12, 2016 - 17:01

Statistics show 1 in 4 people can become sick just from playing a modern video game like Call of Duty. It is even worse for a 3D movie. VR will have the same sort of technical problems. Then there is the price – Oculus is $650 (USD) and PlayStation VR requires a PS4, which probably ends up being about the same. I suspect the attempt will be better than the KINECT peripheral but I doubt if it will catch on. VR is niche market. It will continue to be a niche market until the technology can be used by a wider range of people and it comes down in price.

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