Why Virtual Reality Still Sucks | Untangled
Why Virtual Reality Still Sucks | Untangled
With every new VR headset coming out, tech enthusiasts burst out with “this is a true immersion” kind of shit. Why shit? Because despite 20 years of development virtual reality still sucks.
Today’s virtual reality market is full of all types of headsets, numerous platforms, stores, and apps. And this number is growing and expanding: for 2019 only there have already been announced something like 5 or 6 new headsets. But who the hell gives a fuck about them? Nobody. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality we want! Every company tries to impress us with something new, with a better version of their previous headsets. Yes, they get better. But not enough to go bananas about it.
Expectations we had for VR were not met. Instead of a full-HD realistic image we got a sloppy representation of what VR could have been. Yeah, we can say that it’s still developing, but come on! They promise us “true-to-life amazing experience” and deliver glitching expensive crap that wouldn’t fool a child. VR experiences are cool in terms of existing at all. They kinda look cool, there is a lot of work put into them to get from an idea to its implementation. But the way we perceive it ruins all the good that was supposed to be there.
Let’s take gaming for example. If to look at this only sphere, we can already see what is wrong with VR. To begin with, gaming is where it all started. VR is a tool applicable to gaming as nothing else! Just imagine playing Bioshock in VR, for example. Can you feel it? Can you imagine running around, exploring sites with a constant fear of being attacked from behind? Sounds cool, right? And there are many additional things that are expected to enhance that experience: we have sensors and controllers with a shitton of buttons, we have built-in headphones and treadmills, gloves and even stuff that sprays the smell you might feel in the environment you see. We lack only one thing – immersiveness.
Virtual reality may seem or look real, but it doesn’t feel real. And there are multiple reasons why we don’t enjoy it as we could have. In a nutshell, our brain is too smart to be tricked into believing in the fact that what you see in VR is real.
1. Eye ain’t take it for real!
As you shift focus from a phone screen you are staring at to a girl passing by, your eyes make a lot of work so you could enjoy the view. Our brain takes into account the distance you look at and eye muscles contract to adjust to this distance. At the same time, when you are glued to a smartphone, everything in the background blurs and becomes sharper as you focus on it.
Virtual reality cannot do it. The image is of the same sharpness whenever you look. You can look as you think at the very horizon while watching a sunset, but your eyes don’t behave as they would it if were real. And it creates a sensation of being fooled – your brain doesn’t believe easily into such crap cos nothing supports the experience besides the picture, which is probably not even of the best quality. So while you think you look far away, you still feel like you don’t. Which sucks.
Our eyes are actually pretty complicated bastards. There is too much they do at the same time to trick them with VR. Think of peripheral vision. It is very good at catching movement, like when you see your boss approaching you not even looking straight at him. And our focal vision is less sensitive to motion. And these are two completely separate processes that happen in our brain. And when virtual reality application is being created, it is almost impossible to combine them together and make both visual channels pleasant for perception. If the image, for example, is twitching, you will be annoyed as fuck by it cos you will notice every flick with your peripheral vision.
2. Motion sickness
Motion sickness, nausea, virtual reality sickness – whatever you call it it’s all the same stuff. To understand how it works think about the merry-go-round. When you go very fast, your eyes can’t catch up with your inner ear, which records your body positioning and movement. This mismatch between what you see and what you feel is the reason people vomit on that carousel.
The same happens when you try virtual reality experience. When you move your head, the machine needs to register the movement and change the image, creating a delay. And as none of the computers is as fast as to do it at the samу time, people will get sick.
Of course, today that delay counts in milliseconds, but for some people, who are more sensitive to it, it is enough to never try VR. Unless they enjoy playing and throwing up on everything around.
And even if that delay disappears, you will still feel sick. When you control a character that runs, jumps, and climbs while having your ass comfortably seated on a sofa, the what-you-see and what-you-feel mismatch still stays. The only solution here is to do exactly the same as the character. But no one wants to run miles playing Skyrim VR. As an option, there could be treadmills used. But this works for VR arcades, not for playing at home. Imagine having that humongous think in your living room?
But ok, fuck that. You are tough and you can handle such nuisance as vomiting and feeling dizzy and disorientated. But besides problems of virtual reality being not real, there are other factors that make people believe VR still sucks.
First of all, it’s the price. The cheapest virtual reality headset will cost you around three hundred bucks. And, as you can imagine, there isn’t much to look at. Anything decent will cost you a fortune of a minimum $600. And you need a computer powerful enough for NASA to run a game that will still look crappy. And sensors, and controllers, and earphones.
When you eventually save up enough to buy a headset, you will need to set it up and god help ya! With all the wires, and cored, and sensors, and controllers, and earphones you will fuck with it all day long. Or two. Depends on a headset.
Now when this step is done, you can finally go playing. Oh, wait. You can’t play the game you wanted, your headset doesn’t support it. It’s like PS and Xbox. If you want to play a game, you need to buy it for every platform separately. If it exists for the platform you have. Unlike consoles, there are not two options, there are three or four spaces dedicated to each company’s device only. Encouraging, isn’t it? Do you feel like buying a VR headset now?
But we hope for the best! If virtual reality headsets get cheaper, if the quality gets better, if cross-platform content appears, it can make people get excited about VR. Till then, I’d rather not spend a coin on this fraud.