From The Armchair: VR is the Future, Again

ArmchairGood morrow to you all, and welcome to ‘From The Armchair’, the first in a series of regular posts in which I, Lucius P. Merriweather, spout forth on any old subject that’s been picking at my addled brain, as well as giving you the odd salacious titbit about what’s been happening behind the hallowed doors of The Manor.

As you all know, Sir Gaulian ranges around the South Wing of The Manor, whereas I generally confine myself to the North Wing, occasionally communicating with Gaulie by missives sent via the elaborate pneumatic tube system we had installed at great cost. After a lengthy period of silence, a canister from Gaulie farted out of the tube system a couple of days ago, and the letter inside consisted of a general inquiry as to whether I was still alive and what the blazes I’d been up to.

Well, in answer to his query, I’ve been up to rather a lot. For a start I’ve been furiously scribbling away on another article for the chaps and chappesses at Eurogamer, which hopefully should be appearing in the very near future, although lord knows when. Then I’ve been putting some serious hours in on Fire Emblem: Awakening, which has successfully ensnared me with its mix of tactical gameplay and awkward character interactions, which charmingly seem to mostly revolve around cooking and eating pies. I sneaked a peek at my total playing time the other day, and my eyebrows near shot through my hat – let’s just say it’s the longest period I’ve ever spent playing a single game, and that includes those joyous hours spent bumbling around the ruins of Washington in Fallout 3.

Then there’s L.A. Noire, which the lovely Ms. D. and I have been happily working our way through together. Ms. D. generally isn’t a fan of video gaming, but occasionally a game will come along that sucks her into my favourite pastime – The Walking Dead and The Last of Us were hits, and Ms. D. has a soft spot for the hard-bitten, 40s-era L.A. Noire too, although she gets annoyed if I “don’t play it properly” by ramming into other cars and generally driving like a maniac.

I’ve also been keeping a keen eye on the news coming out of GDC 2014 about Sony’s entry into the virtual reality race, Project Morpheus. After sampling the delights of Oculus Rift last September, I’m fully behind this re-ignition of interest in VR – finally the technology has caught up with the imagination. Back in 1992 we marvelled at The Lawnmower Man (well, the special effects at least), but the reality of VR was shonky Spectrum-esque graphics and a helmet the size of VW Polo, all for two quid a go. Needless to say, it bombed so badly that all thoughts of VR were expelled from hearts and minds for the next decade, but this time around the technology is good enough to live up to the dream.

But lets not get too carried away. After all, this technology is only likely to appeal to the more hardcore end of the gaming spectrum, reliant as it is on expensive equipment and total isolation from the real world. Grandma may have been hooked by swinging a tennis racquet around in Wii Sports, but I doubt she’ll be enticed into locking herself into a helmet to pilot a space fighter. Still, there’s still an undeniable excitement surrounding the new tech – it reminds me of the dawn of 3D gaming back in the mid-90s, perhaps the last time such an enormous breakthrough in gaming technology was made. Mark my words, VR is going to be BIG.

But perhaps not huge



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