My First VR Experience

Today in our Game Design class we were given the opportunity to test out an HTC Vive with a game called “The Lab – Longbow/Archery”. It was the first time I’d actually had the opportunity to try out an “official” device – we have a very cheap Chinese VR headset at home, which is a perfect example of you get what you pay for. I’d often had issues with nausea and motion-sickness, but I didn’t feel that at all while playing on the Vive.

We were shown that the Vive works based on a play area set by the base stations – this allows for a full 360 degree turning radius and a minimum 2m x 1.5m space. You then have the two controllers that each have 24 sensors with haptic feedback. This made it feel like I was really holding the bow, nocking the arrow, drawing and shooting! It was absolutely the best part of the VR experience.

While this might have been my first time playing with the device, it’s not the first game I’ve seen for it. I do watch a lot of Let’s Plays on YouTube, some of which include games made for the Vive. Even though you don’t get the same experience as when you wear it yourself, watching others play the games gives you an idea of what to expect if you were to have your own. There are some really creative and amazing games being developed for the device; a shocking amount have addressed the issue of being unable to move a great deal (walking a distance or running).

This official video from Valve advertising the Vive just shows how powerful this piece of kit it and what sort of gaming experience it can offer.

Unfortunately, the only issue I have with the device is accesibility. Not only is the product itself very expensive for an everyday user (nearing £750 retail price), but you also need to have the computer rig to run it. As I’ve now found out (using the SteamVR Performance Test software), but computer would struggle to run any of the VR games, even with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 770, which I didn’t think was that dated!

I would love to expand my experiences with the Vive by playing games like Richies Plank Experience (despite being very afraid of heights) and Job Simulator. There are so many really good games with unique ways of handling the technology, where I think companies are catching on to how popular VR could really be.

For decades people have been dreaming of virtual reality systems that are fully immersive and with products like the HTC Vive on the market, I’m starting to believe that this is only the beginning. I feel like soon this could become the gaming norm.

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