When it comes to virtual reality, I wouldn’t describe myself as overly enthusiastic. I think it’s neat, and I want it to succeed, but I think it has a very long way to go. With that said, there’s a lot of cool, compelling experiences on offer. While wandering around the press area before Sony’s E3 press conference, I had the chance to check out GT Sport in virtual reality. Since I wanted to play with a controller, the line was all but non-existent, and I was soon in the chair, and about to have one of those magic VR moments.
But first, some nausea
Once I was in the driver’s seat and moving, I experienced my first-ever VR-induced nausea. Talking to another player who had spent a few hours driving in VR, he said it was the controller’s fault, because the hands on the screen didn’t match my real hands’ movements. He might be right about that. I hate the idea that driving in VR requires a wheel, because it adds a $300-plus investment in a wheel onto the huge investment of a VR headset – and further complicates the setup on top of all of that – but he might be right.
With that said, I got over my nausea enough enjoy my time racing. During the two laps I took around one of the included tracks, I had a great moment with VR. After watching the guy before me choose a bright daytime track, I wanted something a bit different, so I chose to set my time of day to ‘dusk.’ I spent most of the race playing catch-up with my computer controlled opponent, but I eventually caught up to the car and passed it.
We were heading up an incline, into a left-hand curve. It was then that something caught my eye. In my driver-side mirror, a flash of a headlight.
It’s simple, and will seem obvious to anyone who has driven a car. Of course you see the headlights of the driver behind you. But for those of us who play and enjoy racing games, it’s not quite the same. We’re often racing from outside the vehicle, or from a camera on the hood of the car, and we’re often driving cars that are either too expensive to be reasonable or wouldn’t be considered street-legal vehicles. Driving in games is, for all its simulation, often feel quite disconnected from real driving.
In that moment though, leaning over to look in my rear view mirror, catching my opponent’s lights in my eyes, I was in the car. I was there.
And it was really cool.