I have only ever used Virutal Reality devies twice, personally. Once when I attended the VR Fest in San Francisco, at the Palace of Fine Arts on July 27th, 2016. There, I experienced something I never even considered I could experience. It was very surreal, very immersive, and pretty horrifying… but in the best possible way, given that one can be empathetic and understanding. I stood in line to use the Occulus Rift, one of the VR Devices currently on the market, to experience what it would be like to have schizophrenia.
Myself, experiencing Schizophrenia. I am completely turned around because I had 360 degrees of view, given that I looked behind me and all around.
The scenario of the experience was that I was in a library with some friends. Everyone was scattered about, talking amongst themselves. Looking straight ahead, I was at a table with two other girls. Behind me was a man on a beanbag chair, and two others at a table. The laptop's screen depicts what I see, and the headphones allows me to hear my surroundings. The headphones, however, didn't just let me hear their chatting. As time progressed, I began to hear voices; whispers that were made to sound like they were coming from behind or around. It sent chills down my spine. The scenario ends with everyone eventually staring at you, and the whispering, which was once soft insults in the back of my mind, now just the other people, blatantly insulting me. It all fades after a minute, everything going back to normal. It was unbelievable how weird it was that it made me feel pretty bad!
The last time I used VR, and my second time, was August 5th. Sony held a small setup at a Best Buy in Vallejo, where they allow people, for about five minutes, to try their own VR device, "PlayStation VR." I went with my friend, Vamario, and we both got opportunities to try it out. Before getting there, I wasn't too sure how the PlayStation VR would be used. I studied how the people ahead of me in line used it, as a way to prepare myself for it. No matter what I could've known, though, nothing could've prepared me for it. It was more amazing than I could have anticipated!
Gamer using the PlayStation VR. He is playing a game called "BattleZone." Honestly, he made the game look a little harder than it was, but it was a fairly difficult to play game, if only because of how I was not used to VR. Regardless, it was very, very cool.
The VR headset was used to look around, with about 180 degrees of range being necessary. The tank you drove did not have windows behind you, so there was no real reason to look behind you. However, you could, and if you did, you would see your chair and the back of the tank. You used looking around to look for enemy vehicles and to turn your tank accordingly. Other than that, you used the PS4 controller to operate the tank in every way. It was amazing how stunned I was after I put on the headpiece. It legitimately felt real. I immediately (instinctively) tried reaching out to grab hold of one of the grips in front of me. I also kept trying to place my feet on the floor of the tank, as I felt like I was suspended in the air too high. So, I stomped my feet on the actual ground a couple of times. It took a couple minutes of me needing to adjust to the world I had just entered, because that's exactly what it felt like I did.
My screenshot of BattleZone. The big green circle located in the lower-center of the screen was your radar. From the player's perspective (in this case, my perspective), the tank was huge! I had to look around constantly, while also maintaining defensive fire, because I was basically always being shot at. That radar helped you locate enemies by coloring them as red dots; the center of the green circle being the player.
It was very immersive, and very fun to play. Way better than I had invisioned it being! It felt way more real than imaginable. With the feeling of reality being not-so virtual, it was an even scarier feat to play the PlayStation VR game "VR Worlds." Particularly speaking, a game with the cute little title of "Ocean Descent." Ocean Descent takes you down, well, the ocean. You are in that cage thing that scuba divers use to protect themselves from any hostile, underwater wildlife. Initially, you are just enjoying the view. Fish swim around in their schools, a multitude of colors quickly swishing by. The reefs and rocks all look natural and beautiful. You get lower and lower, and it starts getting darker and darker. Eventually, you reach this sunken ship… and are subsequently harrassed by a big shark.
This is the shark attacking me. I won't lie, it made me jump when it first tried to pounce. The game let you look almost all around you as it circled the cage. When it swam below me, I found myself lifting my feet up, as if it would grab them and tried to yank me through.
That was fairly horrifying, not going to lie. The games I played were so immersive, I would instinctively react by jumping, or trying to move my limbs out of the way. This game was almost like a ride at a theme park; it was almost hands on with its interactivity. The shark eventually (albeit slowly) breaks the cage open with its razor-sharp teeth, and it ends with it coming at you. A cold ending with morbid implications, but a fun and funny experience nonetheless.
My final game experience was with a game called "Eve.Valkyrie." This game was sort of like "BattleZone," but a lot harder. It was a space dogfighting game; I took control of spacefighter plane, and got directly involved with a dogfight happening just outside the atmosphere of some sort of planet. That game was exciting as it was hard. It involved a lot more in-depth and complicated controls, and aiming with the missiles required looking around for an enemy to lock-on to. That one's going to take some getting used to.
All in all, no matter what was being played, or what was being watched, I had the same reaction: a smile. It was so much fun. Everything I wanted it to be and more. It's almost hard to believe that something like this even exists. I look forward to everything VR related in the future, because no matter what, it'll provide a new perspective and immersion in fantastic worlds. Literally living a dream.
Although the smile is a bit dorky, I am genuinely happy right here. Not just because I was having fun, but because I was thinking about just how immersive this was for me. This experience was something that Past Dylan would dream of, and now it's real. Pretty amazing, the advances we make in technology… it evolves faster than we do.