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VR Like It's 1963


When new hardware comes out in the form of an Eye Toy, a Wii remote, a Kinect etc. I always like to sit down and think of the possibilities that can happen with these new innovations and what could be done with the tech that has never been done before in gaming.

When the Kinect was unveiled in 09, I knew the thing would sink like a rock in 2010 because of two things, first it was basically a more sophisticated Eye Toy, and I thought, if developers couldn’t think of any truly functional game concepts on Eye Toy, there wasn’t much hope for the Kinect. It was easy to see.  Second (and this is important), it didn’t improve or enhance the current gaming control schemes.

It’s that last point that Nintendo seems to understand that doesn’t seem to gel well with the rest of the gaming world. It has to be better than what we’ve had before. When the Nintendo DS unveiled the touch screen in 04, it IMPROVED the gaming landscape, it didn’t just do something different for the sake of doing something different, contrary to popular opinions.

I find VR is like a cross bread of a control scheme, one that improves the situation in some regards and also one that does a disservice in other regards; Only certain genres would get improved, while others would be impossible.

In the case of improvement, at least we have something that makes all those FPS make a lot more sense. And it’s safe to say that air combat and driving games are going to do better. Even point-and-click games like an enhanced Myst might make a comeback.

What I think is lost are fighting games, platformers, top-down shooter, along with some other games I’m not thinking about. I could be wrong but I don’t think those are going to work very, or at the very least, get improved via VR.

It occurred to me when I was writing my last blog, that this format of gaming, VR, maybe the moment that we finally get our first batch of Bio-pic games in the video games industry.

Now I want everyone to watch this trailer,

Imagine if we had a game like this on VR. Think of the implications it would have on our education system. A game where a person can go back in time to past events and interact with the world. To actually look around a gaming space, and live in a different time.

Suddenly the question is no longer whether or not VR would be a revolution for gaming, but rather a question of, would VR be a revolution of education. This could be the revolution VR could provide and it’s not so much in traditional gaming sense, but in a historical learning sense; an educational one.

I firmly believe that video games and education were destine for each other. Once we are finally able to cross paths with education, we can create learning that’s involving and potent. As it stands, education is removed and hands off. I think our current form of teaching is bad and can improve if we simply reflect on the human condition and how we learn.

VR is instrumental in learning because it allows a player to experience things firsthand, and with that, can understand the importance and significance of complex ideas by simply putting an individual in an environment where it had to create a new logic and new justifications for the arguments it’s found itself in. The brain will be slower to retreat to the notion that there’s no immediate threat to the observer, because the VR will trick the mind into believing that it must survive under present conditions.

What I’m saying is that, if you’re transported to the year 2000 and the twin towers are still standing, what would you do? Think of the type of AAA game that could come from a concept like that. It would be a genuine breakthrough that only VR could provide.

In the new show 11.22.63 (or even Quantum Leap to some extent), the protagonist is dealt with a completely different world, a world with completely different set of standards and social cues. Having the player understand these details and having the game react in different ways could be instrumental in creating real world associations and arguments in the minds of students/gamers. If done right, we could be looking at a time where a person is able to look at historical texts and photos, and have a sense of a significance with the events. To involve the teaching in the memories of the player, to understand the reasons behind many of the things we have to today. VR is the future of, not gaming, but education. It could be this aspect of education that could propel the headset into a gaming mainstay, I don’t see it too much otherwise.

I’ve learnt throughout life that when it comes to education, nothing compares with hands on experience. Of course, not taking anything away from formal academia, what we are looking at here could be the beginnings of the cross section of those two components of learning: academia and experience. It feels like we’re touching on the purpose of this medium, video games.

If you can provide an experience that presents the argument of another world, the brain is compelled to learn its environment in a more detailed fashion. We could be looking at a real breakthrough here. The problem with having a teacher simply explain the importance of a topic is that the payoff to the conflicts’ resolution isn’t present. There’s no impact to the words of the lessons, it’s all theory. It’s all some guy and a blackboard. It’s some guy with some pictures. VR is the opportunity to give substance to rhetoric and appeals not just to the eyes and ears but to our psychologies. It appeals to our brains predisposition to survival. No matter how a person approaches their environments, VR could allow everyone to think in their own fashions.

I totally believe that like all our facets, we are all different, this also includes our ways of thinking. Having a concrete environment for those different ways of thinking to explore, could be the turning point for people who have had difficulties in learning. If we can touch on this effectively through VR, we could be looking at a new generation of children that were once thought too hyperactive or distracted as totally teachable.

VR can be the beginning of something big. It can give a realism that was lost between the gap of a player and their television set. If we can somehow get a Ken Levine or a Warren Spector on the case, it could be the beginning in a new branch of study in our gaming conversation. Who knows, if VR could pull this off perhaps gaming could get the respects it deserves. Perhaps gaming, once it has a benefit in the way of education, can finally garner the same respect that every other medium has been able to achieve. To be looked upon as a public good, to serve some sort of public utility in the way of reliving. Maybe that’s what VR was all about to begin with. Reliving.

So yeah, I’m going to leave it here. I just thought of the implications and I had to write this shit down.



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About Chris Bradshawone of us since 5:16 PM on 02.06.2008