VR: I’m running out of time

My first VR experience was Dactyl Nightmare, somewhere around 1991. I went into an arcade and a technician was just setting the machine up. Since he was still tweaking things he let me play around in it for longer than my $5 or $10 was supposed to get me. I was astounded. I was swept away. It was like the best acid trip ever. I wanted more.

Over the years I’ve dabbled. At one point I cobbled together a home VR system using a Mattel Power Glove and Sega 3D glasses from… the Saturn maybe? I played handball in my bedroom. It was pretty neat but also pretty damned low-res/laggy. I think I was running this on a 386sx PC, if that dates it for you. Y’know that might have even been before Dactyl Nightmare.

Since those days I’ve mostly been waiting for VR to arrive. Last year I took the plunge and got a Playstation VR system and that has been pretty fun, but let’s face it, it’s a bit limited in terms of resolution, given the power of the PS4 driving it. Plus it’s a bit of a chore to set up since the PS4 is in the living room. There are cables that get in the way, and the camera needs to be just so which means perching it on a stool in the middle of the room. I enjoy it and don’t regret the purchase but honestly I don’t use it as much as I would like just because there is so much ‘prep’ that has to happen before I turn it on, and because of how intrusive it is (for Angela and the doggo) to have cables strung across the room.

Lately I’ve been looking to upgrade. Right now there seem to be three ‘active’ options: Oculus Rift, the HP Vive and Valve’s Index. Both the Vive and Index require setting up sensors around the room; this makes them less than ideal for our current living space. That leaves the Rift S or the wireless Rift Quest. The former would connect to my PC tucked away in a corner of the kitchen, out of everyone’s way. The latter is wireless and seems to be pretty much “pick up and play.”

Problem is, both these systems still have limitations and flaws. I keep thinking “I should wait for the next iteration.” The tech will improve and/or get cheaper, support will become more prevalent. If anyone were to ask me, I’d say keep on waiting for VR to ‘arrive.’

Problem for me is, I’m old. I recently had my eyes checked and the doc wants to bump up my prescription (which happens every year). Recently had my ears checked and confirmed that my hearing is going. It’s age-related so there’s nothing to be done to fix it. My body seems to get stiffer every day. My hands hurt if I manipulate things for too long. Getting old sucks, make no mistake.

So I’m wondering how much time I realistically have to enjoy VR since it is kind of an ‘activity.’ Can I afford to wait another 5 or 10 years for the next jump in VR technology? How much blinder and deafer will I be by then? How much worse will my arthritis be? Plus I don’t want to end up on a “funny” YouTube video titled “Elders Try VR.” I mean, I’m already as old as a lot of those “elders” are. /fistshake

I’ve been having these internal discussions with myself more and more as the fact that life is most definitely finite gets in my face again and again. Yeah its depressing but hey, this is my life. If I have things I want to experience, it’s time to set about experiencing them. But…what if VR tech leaps ahead two years from now? I won’t be much worse in two years than I am now. I can wait for that, right?

Hmmm. If anyone finds the fountain of youth, give me a call. OK?

3 thoughts on “VR: I’m running out of time

  1. I tried out Ryan’s Virtual Reality at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, MA earlier this year and was absolutely blown away be the realism of the alien/zombie game I co-played with my 10 year old son and 65 year old father. His eyesight and hearing aren’t great, but he had a blast. So much so that we both actually “fell” during the battle thinking we were really being attacked by zombie aliens. I hadn’t had a lot of experience with VR before this and my expectations were low (think SEGA Virtua Racing low) so maybe my perceptions of VR are dated, but this really opened my eyes to the possibilities of this gaming interface.

  2. In two years, there’s going to be new models obsoleting the old ones and the games of today may no longer be playable on the new stuff. See things like DOS and Windows 95 falling by the wayside, the various PS2-PS4 incompatibilities and my present frustration that the newest cell phone models have changed their charging/data connector and no longer have a wired headphone jack. The steadily weakening battery of my present model suggests I’ll eventually be pushed into accepting the design decisions of the newer generation, it’s just a matter of time.

    So perhaps the question should be, are there things you want to experience -now- on the current hardware that’s available? If you can afford it, why not? If you can’t, then well, wait till it becomes possible.

    In 2, 5, 10, 20 years, the tech will move on and like it or not, if one is still alive, one’ll have to deal with and embrace it then, regardless of whether one has been keenly awaiting the advance or dreading it and longing for the experiences of yesteryear. Thing is, did one actually -have- any experiences of yesteryear to fondly remember?

  3. VR is going nowhere as far as the mass market is concerned until a) it’s completely wireless and b) it leaves the head unencumbered and vision free and clear. Until it goes mass market there won’t be any really impressive games, apps or utilities. How long that’s going to take is anyone’s guess.

    Google glass was the obvious carrier for VR. Shame Google ran scared of the privacy issues. They are still working on it though, just not talking about it. When we get something as light and comfortable as a pair of mirror shades that you can look through to see the real world with a blink or a twitch, then we’re talking.

    I’m not expecting to live to see it.

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