by Charlie Lucy

Virtual Reality: A New Frontier that Needs New Games to be Played


After years of hot-seat games, split-screen races, and other rudimentary forms of multiplayer gameplay, my first LAN game came as a breath of fresh air. Not having to share my computer with another human being, and being able to play along with my friends in a relatively comfortable way (we didn't have "gamer" chairs back then) was a great experience. With the internet becoming what it is today - an omnipresent network that's always on - multiplayer became much more accessible, allowing me to play from the comfort of my home. I didn't think it could get any better than this - until VR came along (or returned, depending on how you want to put it). Virtual reality promises a more immersive and lifelike gaming experience, one that will once again change the way we play - and interact with each other inside the gaming universe. But first, we'll need new gaming universes in which to interact.

New dimensions, new uses

Virtual reality will have many uses, often beyond just gaming. Microgaming, a real money game developer (more info found here), has showcased its own VR solution at last year's ICE Totally Gaming in London, where players could step inside a virtual casino, experience their games in a way they never had the occasion before, and immerse themselves in a completely different world. While the use for this might seem a bit restricted (the real money gaming world is less widespread than casual gaming, for example), it offers a glimpse into the future.

Imagine stepping into a game lobby, where you can choose between, say, a game of virtual chess or backgammon, table tennis or squash, and the list could go on forever. And VR can improve the co-operative - or competitive - gaming experience in ways we haven't thought of yet.

We need the virtual worlds first

No Man's Sky was the most anticipated game of this year, especially by VR early adopters. It's a game with an almost infinite number of worlds to explore - what's not to look forward to? But it seems not to be quite what players might have expected - not that the developers would have claimed that it would. Although the NMS universe is massive, players were starting out in a rather narrow location on launch day. Still, meeting each other was quite unlikely - unless arrangements were made. And this was exactly what two players did: they arranged a meeting on a planet, but when they got there, they couldn't interact with each other.

While player interaction was not among Hello Games' initial plans, the fact that two players who were in the same spot at the same time being unable to interact with each other was a bit unexpected and disappointing. This doesn't make the game less amazing - it's not a multiplayer game, after all - but shows that players are seeking for ways to co-operate, to play together in virtual reality. And this is, hopefully, something that game developers will offer us soon.

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