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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Video Games

The Future of Gaming and the Oculus Rift

by Chardell Johnson

As technology moves forward in all other realms, we expect gaming to shift as well. Although there have been a few advancements by way of sensors and movement technology, what gamers and even non gamers are most anticipating is virtual reality. There have been a few minor blips in the virtual reality department, but nothing quite refined enough to trickle into mass market or priced appropriately for consumers. Virtual reality consoles of the past several years have mostly been marketed to the military for combat practice and have been priced anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, despite the desires of their creators. For the past several years, it’s seemed as though virtual reality exists in the same want space as hovercrafts and brain implants that surf the web.

Enter the Oculus Rift. When news of the Oculus Rift began to escape to the public, many were skeptical. On its Kickstarter account it asked for an impressive 2 million dollars, and there were whispers of a scam. Regardless of the naysayers, however, it made its 2 million dollar goal and more and we began to see footage and pictures of a virtual reality module that the consumer could enjoy.  Within the next month we hear that it will be making its way to developers to be tested, which means if all goes well we’re within a year of having it in our eager hands.

The question that the Oculus Rift is most sparking other than “when can I have one”, is does this mark the true future of gaming. In the next ten years, most of us are wondering if we’re going to see a shift toward virtual reality being the main vehicle of gaming and not a novelty. Even if the Oculus Rift isn’t everything we’ve ever dreamed of, it will put pressure on the major companies like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to try to capture a market space that previously didn’t exist. While I may not be terribly interest in the first generation personal virtual reality console, I’m definitely interested in seeing the development of this entirely new space in gaming.

It also speaks volumes about the Kickstarter site and the small business owner. Although Kickstarter has come under heavy fire, it has proven to be a strong vehicle for the aspiring game developer producing some indie games that are both enjoyable and profitable. Regardless of the legal issues that other venues seem to have with it, for gamers and game developers the site is proving to be somewhat invaluable. If a site like Kickstarter can give us virtual reality when major game companies have yet to, it says volumes about what the layman can create when given the chance. If it can be done, why hasn’t it yet?

Although the death of one of the co-founders of the company last week came as a shock and is a devastating loss to the technological world and the company, the founders of Oculus Rift have promised us that they will continue to work tirelessly and actively on this new technology and finally give the average consumer a chance to escape his world into an immersive gaming environment.


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