At a Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, several producers of head gears (Sony and Oculus, which is a Facebook subsidiary, among them) explored the future of virtual reality. After long years of anticipation, we might have reached the point where the technology is advanced enough to get close to simulating real-life effects. During this conference, Sony launched a new prototype of “Morpheus”, a virtual reality-generating head gear, whose form for consumers will be ready in the early months of 2016. The gadget, whose prospective price is yet unknown, is built to connect to Play Station 4 video game consoles. HTC also announced that they will release a Vive virtual reality head gear by the end of 2015, and Oculus chief technology officer John Carmack disclosed that his company, along with Samsung, is finishing work on a similar device, about to be launched before the end of the year.
Great expectations surround the era of real life simulators, and game designers and producers are not afraid to dream. Scott Steinberg, chief of video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global, declared that the new headsets need very well-designed games, “that help show off the power of the hardware”, in order to improve the overall experience of virtual reality. It is not just about the possibility of enjoying the new technology; it is also about the quality of the games and about the entertainment they provide. In the view of Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, the goal of VR gears is to “deliver a real sense of presence to players”. According to Carmack, who before working for Oculus, was the co-founder of ID Software and one of the pioneers of three-dimensional computer gaming, sees the real stake of virtual reality devices as something larger than just gaming. He can easily imagine “a world with a billion people using virtual reality headsets”.
There are difficulties, of course, in adapting to this new technology (for instance many people get nauseous), but producers hope to overcome them with time, by improving the devices. Sony has already improved its Morpheus gear in terms of image-quality, eliminating blur and increasing speed.
MindMaze, a start-up founded by Tej Tadi, promoted another headset device, MindLeap, with sensors for thought-powered play. Tej Tadi says that the player’s emotions and particularities of feeling, perception and movement will be incorporated and replicated by the device “so you really believe you are in the virtual world”. Some veterans of the gaming industry, like the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, Kate Edwards, are still skeptical about the outcomes of the new branch and consider that the content of the games will make the difference.
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