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VRooooming Away From Reality

virtual realityMattComment

$599.

That is the cost-of-entry for Oculus' take on the wonderful world of virtual reality.

I don't necessarily think that's a bad price point but it's certainly not for me. To be perfectly candid, the entire offering of VR isn't something that particularly gets my motor going either. I love the idea of virtual reality, but I also think that's my biggest barrier.

The recommended PC specs to properly run the Oculus hardware isn't anything to scoff at either, as far as barriers go. Take a gander:

Video Card NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
CPU Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
Memory 8GB+ RAM
Video Output Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
USB Ports 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
OS Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer

The video card itself will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 or greater.
The CPU will hit your pocketbook in the $200 range and that's not considering whether you have an appropriate motherboard.

So, between the Oculus itself and the building of a new PC, you're already in the $1100 range. So, the barrier to entry isn't just the actual Oculus hardware, but may also include the need to build or upgrade your PC. For a lot of consumers, this puts VR out of reach, however, it's important to understand why the requirements are so high. Unlike a normal game that can run at 30 or 60 FPS on your standard monitor, Oculus has to run at 90 FPS in order to partially achieve the fluidity of a virtual 3D world. Not only that, but the worlds have to be fully rendered in 2 places at once, both lenses, so the effect is complete.

But that's where we are. VR isn't ready for wide consumption yet and the financials are just one of the concerns. The other, of course, is content. This is where VR loses me.

As a kid, there some not-great films which put some weird expectations of what VR should be in my mind. The Lawnmower ManHackers, eXistenZ, and Brainscan all tried to blend the video-game/virtual reality world with our own. Then you had books like Snow Crash, which took it to another level. And those concepts were very appealing to me, but the current tech just isn't there yet.

The Lawnmower Man made VR appealing to me. Think about that for a second. Fun fact, the CGI for the film was done by Angel Studios who would go on to become Rockstar San Diego and help make Red Dead Redemption among others.

When I strap on a VR headset for the first time, I don't want to just be playing a side-scroller that allows me to look around, nor do I want to really hold a controller unless I'm flying a TIE-Fighter or something, in which case, absolutely give me flight controls. But even in that case, I want my flight controls to 1:1 with what I see in the headset. I want it to match the controller that's plugged in.

Really, what I want, is for VR to take me into a whole new world where I'm not bound by a controller. Where I can hold my hands out in front me and see them. Where I can reach to my side and pull out my six-shooter in a VR version of Wild Gunman. Where I can pick up tools and learn to build something without fucking it up in the real world first (I'm not handy). I'm sure these things will make their way to VR eventually and it'll be pretty exciting when it happens.

I am 100% aware that this is my own doing and that I am the biggest roadblock in accepting what Oculus, HTC and Sony will be offering. And I'm ok with it. I hope to see VR take off sooner than later. It's a concept so many of us have been aching for and now it's finally coming to fruition. While I won't participate in the first generation (probably the first few, honestly) of VR, I will be rooting for it to succeed. The virtual worlds people will be able to build and allow us to explore as if we were truly there...they'll be almost infinite. The only limit will be imagination. And tech. Tech is always a limitation. But that doesn't sound quite as "important" and "fancy", now does it?

The future's so bright...you gotta wear an Oculus headset.