Virtual Reality is finally near

Go back in time to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and there was this prevailing belief in our culture that virtual reality was going to someday become a reality. We had glimpses of it in the 90’s but they were expensive ventures that had little real substance.

In 2006 the first strides were made to bring VR to the masses. Nintendo released their Wii gaming machine that introduced motion controls to the world of interactive entertainment. While the concept was a novel idea, the execution ultimately turned into nothing more than just that, a novelty. Still the sales success of the Wii and it’s “magic wand” did re-introduce gamers to the idea of virtual reality and soon their competitors began offering motion controls and immersive experiences on their machines as well.

Then a few years latter Oculus was conceived which has finally made its way to market. I am not here to actually write a review of the Oculus Rift, since I don’t currently own one and I haven’t had a chance to demo one either. Instead I just want to express my excitement that between this machine and others now hitting the market, or soon to be hitting the market, I will soon get a chance to experience that world of VR that was promised to us over twenty years ago.

If you are not clear what Virtual Reality is think of it as total immersion. In normal, or should I say traditional, video games you sit on a couch and interact with the TV using a game controller. Wii took this a step closer to immersion giving us motion controls, that were neat but ahead of their time. Wii itself was actually a repeat of a similar attempt two decades earlier, the Power Glove. So with any new technology it takes time for things to advance to a point where consumers might buy in.

There are two schools of thought that are prevailing currently when it comes to VR. The first is the skeptics who have watched VR tech come and go for years and see this new round as nothing more than a waste of money and energy. The  argument is these machines are too expensive, the games are not ready, there are too few types of games that would benefit from VR, the list goes on.

The other school of though is that with the level of investment and excitement this time VR is bound to take off. The argument goes that the entry point isn’t as great as it used to be, that it is in line with other budding technologies of our time that have taken off, so not out of reach for the average consumer. They also argue that with as much competition now there is a greater chance of success.

If you look at either argument you will see they both have some merits. While I personally think VR is the future, and I am super excited for the devices that are hitting the market, I do concede that price is an issue. For me in order to get into Oculus I would need to spend a minimum of $950 dollars on a compatible PC, that is if I order one pre-tested by Oculus to work, I could always buy a cheaper model or build one my own and “make it fit” by upgrading necessary hardware but in the end the time cost doesn’t balance the money saved so I would still prefer to buy a pre-built machine proven to work. Then on top of that there is the $600 entry fee of the machine itself. On top of that I would need to buy compatible games, non of which I currently own as of right now. This puts Oculus just out of my reach. While true I am planning on buying a new computer in the very near future, I am not looking to spend that kind of money on one at this time.

With Oculus out that leaves me looking at the three, that I know of, devices either on the market or about to be by the end of the year. The one I am most likely to purchase is the Playstation VR. Why? Because for starters I already own a PS4 which is the base machine required for the Playstation VR. Also I currently own a couple of dozen games for the PS4 and several of the games that are set to be compatible with Playstation VR are games I was already interested in getting. This means that the barrier of entry is lower for me, I can buy the headset, pick up a compatible game and be on my way for about the price of a new game console. Now unless the NX totally blows my mind, I am perfectly happy buying a PS VR since I am planning on getting a new console this year anyways, it was either going to be Xbox One or NX but I might just stick to getting PS VR.

One thing that makes me excited about this round of VR is the technology has finally arrived where it no longer is a burden to play. I am also excited by the number of companies getting into this, especially seeing Sony who is the world-wide leader in the video game industry. I don’t think VR is “here and now” like many are proclaiming but I have always felt it was the future and for the first time I do believe that future is very near.