So you want to play with virtual reality? It’s a new experience, and there is a ton of VR games out right now.
However, before you purchase a VR headset and lose yourself to another world, you may want to learn a few facts about this relatively fresh tech. Fresh because modern VR still hasn’t reached its tenth anniversary since it first came about, since the Oculus Rift’s launch in 2012.
Bet you didn’t know that, did you?
There may be more things you didn’t know about VR gaming. Some are trivial, but others can significantly affect your experience. Here are some of those major facts.
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Optimal Frame Rate
VR games require a consistent 90 frames per second (FPS). You can run them at 60 FPS, the usual for non-VR games, but you may get headaches and vertigo.
This is because, when playing a VR game, if there’s a slight delay between your actions in real life and your movement in the game, it will mess up your mind’s motor coordination, specifically hand-eye coordination. This disconnection will hurt your brain as it’s trying to make sense of what’s going on. Even one moment of that lag will give you motion sickness.
What causes that lag? Well, your VR peripheral (i.e., Oculus, Vive, PSVR, etc.) still needs to track and translate your movement into the game. That process becomes smoother with 90 FPS. The regular 60 won’t be enough to bridge the response time between you and your VR device.
Therefore, get a VR-ready PC. They’re high-end PCs that can easily reach 90 (and maybe even 120 FPS), so you won’t ever have your mind broken by virtual reality.
Virtual Reality Is Not Augmented Reality
You may have heard of augmented reality. Suffice it to say that augmented reality is not virtual reality.
AR melds CGI (computer-generated imagery) with what you see in real life, whereas VR replaces your vision of reality entirely. The former doesn’t block off your vision of what’s real, only adding a layer of artificial visuals. The latter, VR, through your peripherals and headset, takes you to another world.
Both technologies are used by companies for stuff like advertising, but AR isn’t yet being significantly used for playing video games like VR does. Only a handful of games use AR, with Pokémon GO as the best known example.
Because the current generation of VR tech is still a bit young, there is no single standardized controller for VR games yet. Currently, there are four types of input devices that VR games commonly use.
- Mouse and Keyboard: You can use your regular PC peripherals to play VR games; however, do note that, since you’ll be wearing a VR headset, you won’t be able to see your keys. Even a master of the keyboard still glances at it from time to time. Therefore, a mouse and keyboard, although compatible, are the least convenient peripherals to use for VR.
- Game Pad: With the previous point in mind, most people use a game pad (e.g., Xbox 360 controller) as it’s a bit more intuitive than a keyboard is. Your hands will always be gripping it, and your fingers can easily find the buttons.
- Specialized Device: This category refers to flight sticks, steering wheels, and similar controllers for simulations. Of course, since they’re built specifically for certain games, they do not have as much flexibility as the other devices do. They’re expensive too.
- Motion-Control Device: This last one is an umbrella grouping for VR-specific devices that give you the ultimate virtual-reality experience. They vary from simple single-stick controllers held in each hand (à la the Nintendo Wiimote) to full body sensors. They effectively act as your “hands” in-game.
Got It Memorized?
These are the three basic details you need to know about virtual-reality gaming. After this, you’ll know what you need to play VR games.
These also serve as an intro to the world of VR. The tech will likely evolve to a more refined, more immersive form in the near future. Knowing the basics can pave the way toward better understanding any new tech that comes out.
Should the time come when VR can truly blur the boundary between what’s real and what’s virtual, you’ll have enough background knowledge to aid you dispel the illusion. You don’t want to forget that you’re jacked into the matrix, do you now, Neo?