Prediction: VR-cades will be a thing in the coming years. Arcades as we know and love them have all but gone to the rapture, replaced by stale internet cafes or one dollar pizza places. An Arcade game should be so lucky, to find a loving home this day in age is rare, like finding a baby unicorn. Whether your PC's are ready for it or not, the VR train is steadily approaching. This coming fall the HTC Vive will be first out the gate and available publicly. But this wouldn't be the first time for a virtual reality peripheral. History tends to repeat itself.
Way back when arcades were nefarious dungeons and the old Chinese guy at the quarter counter cut you short and there was a 9 kid line to play Mortal Kombat, VR was born. You probably don't remember it, because a human brain can only take so much nonsense before detouring shitty memories of empty promises. Enter 'Virtuality'. Introduced in the early 90's (and showcased in some theaters showing Terminator 2 in America) this 'VR' console attempted to capture the hearts of gamers. It didn't, the marketing was all flash, the games looked terrible and they made people sick. But hey, the user looked kind of cool ( for the 90's) wearing the gear. And that was the hook; games were shit but you got to sit in a 'vr pod' and wear a heavy, sweaty helmet for 3 min. Yes 3 min, Virtuality charged $5 bucks and let you play 3 miniutes. Which, in the early 90's was enough cash to get a six pack and crush it in the alley. This was a huge fail for any company trying to make a buck off a lie and when consumers began sharing there experiences amongst themselves Virtuality flopped, hard. Unfortunately, the technology at the time wasn't anywhere close to realizing the potential of our creativity. Until this Fall
In a year or two what will be happening will be a resurgence of the Arcade and Virtual Reality proper. VR is a different beast completely. Watching videos and trailers simply doesn't achieve the immersion level you keep hearing about from users these days. The only way to understand it is to experience it in person. It deffinately wont be for everyone so why would anyone throw $500 at something they might not even like? The HTC Vive uses a peripheral called 'Lighthouse'(the boxes on the right.) Essentially they are placed in a room and they map the space your physically standing in into the virtual environment your experiencing. So your going to need a dedicated room for this already. Online the suggested size for the lighthouse tracking system is a 15x15 ft space. The headset itself will require no less than 3 separate inputs into a CPU: power, USB and HDMI. The intelligent thing to do would be to have a tether on the ceiling with a swivel for these cables. If a company wants to injure their users then they should cause them to be blind and create tripping hazards, so when they throw up from nausea it'll be while tripping over said cables and falling against a wall; landing on an otherwise perfectly good and functioning computer. Childproofing resurgence is another prediction not suited for this particular article, but you heard it here first. Safety is going to be an issue here.
Problems are emerging rapidly.
Other very interesting and innovative peripherals are revealing themselves as well, some less recently than others. One of the most utilitarian and predictably ubiquitous being the Virtuix Omni. It's a stationary tread mill you might have seen on "Shark Tank" in 2013. They didn't get the bid. This seems like the most practical and natural extension to the VR experience. Allowing you to physically walk and run through the game environments safely (note the 'safety ring'). It's amazing... and expensive. Not to mention cumbersome. This unit costs $699 dollary-doos and the shipping costs alone will be insane if you don't live in the States. Also you need special shoes for it with plastic soles. You might be able to take them bowling! Were just not sure yet but keep your bowling fingers crossed.
Contrasting the size of the Virtuix Omni perfectly is the 'Gloveone.' A hepatic feedback system attached to gloves that the user wears to experience tactile response in a virtual world. Oh and it's wireless! Hands down (pun intended) the most intriguing and technologically mind-fucking peripheral created so far. At $395 bones for the pair its not going to be a spontaneous purchase for many people.
So to for full immersion and the complete VR experience were going to need some things. Valve in there wisdom has not yet revealed the price point or points for there HTC Vive headset but lets call it a comfy $500 US. Then the controllers which who knows if they will be included. Lets say they will. The lazer-emitting lighthouse which may or may not come as a package with the Vive lets call that $150 US. Your going to need a 15x15ft room for the experience which can't really be priced. It would be fair to say none of us have a free room ready for VR dedication. Your certainly going to need the Virtuix Omni for running like a caged rat that's going to be $699. Lastly and not leastly you'll need a great PC if your a console gamer exclusively your going to have to wait another 6 or so months. As of now no big news about console VR peripherals has come. The latest PC specs from 'Road to VR' is suggesting:
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
So that's, what? $2000 US. Finally you'll need those badass gloves mentioned earlier for $395. Now your ready, after spending about $3,750 before tax US for the full experience. For now, the Virtual frontier will more than likely happen through a business, hopefully near you.
The reality for the gamers at home though will be more modest. A consumer will be told by friends that they have to get a Vive or a Oculus or simply act on there curiosity and buy one for themselves. Most players will be contented to stay at home and add it to there entertainment arsenal forgoing the expensive 'add-ons.' But there's no way to truly understand the experience of full immersion until its been witnessed first hand. Hence the VAR-CADE! Remember that soft neon glow of the neighborhood arcade and now imagine it with rooms instead of video cabinets. Sure you might see 'quarter man' Jonny with a new job; dedicated to mopping up jizz off the 'porn room' floor or blood off the walls in the 'fighter room,' or Yak off the floor in the 'vomit simulator room.' Man this is gonna be exciting! Alternatively you could also be much less adventurous and make an incredibly elaborate long distance phone call (see below) totally your choice.
Keanu knows internet!