So it has been 4 days now since I was able to step into virtual reality and man what a ride.
I have been to the bottom of the ocean, looked a whale in the eye, fought off hoards of evil robots, flown spaceships, shot off fireworks, made popcorn, met an old friend and made some new enemies. All from the comfort of my basement.
So then I ponder, when does the virtual world, become my reality?
In theBlu you travel to the depths of the ocean and watch as a blue whale swims past a shipwreck, stopping for a moment so close that you can see the pupil in his giant eye, close enough to touch, close enough to make your heart skip a beat. Now as a real life scuba diver I can tell you this, theBlu was so real I found myself breathing through my mouth, I felt the weight on my chest of the water, the quickened heart rate that comes with the excitement of being in a foreign place.
So when you combine all those things together, was my mind not at the bottom of the ocean? And if your reality is no more than your perception, then was I not truly somewhere other than my basement for I did just perceive I was somewhere else?
That is at the end of the day the crux of virtual reality, we are tricking our minds into believing we are somewhere other than here. And how this differs from regular video games is you ARE the person in the game, you are no longer a silent observer subtly manipulating the actions of your onscreen avatar, you ARE the on screen avatar.
In The Gallery – EP1: Call of the Starseed each controller you hold is represented in game as a pair of hands in some stylish gloves. You squeeze the trigger and your hand closes and opens. You can fully interact with your world, pic up bottles, fireworks, jiffy pop popcorn, the list goes on, and those disembodied hands actually start feeling like you own, it is hard to explain, but your mind simply accepts what you are giving it, the controller vibrates when you break a bottle on a rock, giving you the sense you actually smashed something.
So I ask, was I not just on a beach rummaging through washed up garbage? My mind sure seems to think so, so then does that not mean it really happened?
I have yet to spend any sustained period of time in VR, thus far my visits have been about an hour each, but the more time you seem to spend, the harder it is for me to accept I have not actually been somewhere else. Now I know as a sane person, sure, I have not been magically teleported to the cockpit of a spaceship trying to save humanity, but that does not make it feel any less real.
VR games are so much more than video games, and comparing the two is akin to saying a junior hockey team is the same as the NHL. They quite literally are in completely different leagues.
So then I have to wonder, should we even be calling them VR games anymore? What virtual rality is selling you selling you is experiences, life and mind altering experiences. You are no longer the omnipotent overseer of a hero, you are the hero, you are slaying the dragon, you are saving the princess and you are humanities last hope. So to call them a games, is in reality an insult to what they really are…