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The Oculus Rift: A Mighty Dose of Hedonism that I Must Have.

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At this point, most people will probably know what the Oculus Rift is. For those that don’t, let me toss down the description from the developers’ site:

Low-Latency 360 Degree Head Tracking:

The Rift uses custom tracking technology to provide ultra-low latency 360° head tracking, allowing you to seamlessly look around the virtual world just as you would in real life. Every subtle movement of your head is tracked in real time creating a natural and intuitive experience.

Stereoscopic 3D View:

The Oculus Rift creates a stereoscopic 3D view with excellent depth, scale, and parallax. Unlike 3D on a television or in a movie, this is achieved by presenting unique and parallel images for each eye. This is the same way your eyes perceive images in the real world, creating a much more natural and comfortable experience.

Wearable and Affordable:

The Oculus Rift delivers a high-end virtual reality experience at an affordable price. The Rift is also designed to be as comfortable and lightweight as possible for long play sessions.

Ultra Wide Field of View:

The Oculus Rift provides an approximately 100° field of view, stretching the virtual world beyond your peripheral vision. Your view of the game is no longer boxed in on a screen and is only limited by what your eyes can see. The combination of the wide field of view with head-tracking and stereoscopic 3D creates an immersive virtual reality experience.

INEEDDIS

Yadda yadda yadda sales jargon I NEED DIS. That’s what they’re trying to say.

The fun thing about First-Person anything (shooters, RPGs, etc) is that you are immersed into it. I play Skyrim and all the other Elder Scrolls games in first person. I know you have the option to pull the camera back to third person, but honestly the whole aiming thing goes out the window. That or I suck. Let’s go with the former, regardless of the truth.

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I probably wouldn’t even be able to hit that big green bitch in third person view. And it’s literally the size of a house.

Bethesda / Flickr.com

Back to the Oculus and why I need it in my life. Or even how I know that I need it in my life.

I was watching some Pewds this morning, and one of my recent favorites is the one of him having one of his worst jump scares playing Affected on the Oculus. Now, I’m not a good or a decent person (maybe you’ve read my article on Cards Against Humanity), so I feel great delight watching him suffer. But stepping beyond my raging Schadenfreude, I thought about what his experience must be like, especially with high-quality, sound-canceling headphones on.

Your real world is gone. Sure, you can feel your chair beneath you, the controller in your hands, the set on your face, and the clothes on your skin (unless you play naked – I don’t judge). But those are firing up your sense of touch. Human beings rely quite a lot more on sight and sound to determine their reality, and that’s where the Oculus captures you and forces you into the game’s world. You turn your head and you see the game. You walk forward and the world moves around your eyes and your head, as does the soundscape. You literally cannot escape this game world unless you rip the set off of your head, as Pewds does (poor guy. But c’mon, he plays horror games so often I think he enjoys it).

Now, while horror games may not be for me necessarily (I’m a bit high strung at the best of times, so seeking out ways to bolster my anxiety is not really at the top of my to do list), fantasy/sci-fi games will be stealing all my money. Every single stupid penny I have. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to want to play Skyrim on Oculus Rift AND the Cyberith Virtualizer with Wiimote controls like this guy does, as that’s a bit too Lawn-Mower-Man for me. Still, this dude is having a good time, and you can see at least what his visual Oculus Rift experience is like on the right.

This fellow, with the most excitably Irish accent I’ve ever heard, is playing Mirror’s Edge on the Oculus Rift. If you’re afraid of heights, this combo might not be for you. But if you’ve got a constitution of steel, then it’s like the parkour experience for people not quite gifted with amazing athleticism or coordination.

Here’s another guy playing some DOOM. Just in case you haven’t seen enough vids yet. Don’t you like his stylish googly eye decorations? I love them.

Playing video games with the Oculus Rift? Hell yes. Absolutely awesome for a first person experience. I’ve seen a vid or two of third-person games on the Oculus Rift, and it just doesn’t seem as cool to me. It’s more like you get the experience of Skeets, Booster Gold’s little robot, rather than the hero’s experience.

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High-five if you also watched the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.

DC Comics / Flickr.com

But what else would the Oculus Rift setup be good for? I mean honestly, when you may think you look all suave and futuristic like this:

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Flickr.com

Sadly the reality is that, while you’re using it, you’ll look more like this:

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Flickr.com

Or this:

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Flickr.com

Still, if you’re goal isn’t to impress the people immediately around you and to, instead, impress people in a virtual boardroom during a conference call, then you’re all set. It’s about as close as we can come to a holographic group meeting, kicking Skype up about ten thousand notches.

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Flickr.com

And the Oculus Rift doesn’t just have to be used for business communications either. Imagine men and women who are deployed being able to feel like they’re at least a little closer to home for that ten minute call they get with their families and friends. It might help combat a lot of the issues of depression and hopelessness that many people in the service feel while deployed, especially for long stretches of time. On the civilian side of things, if a loved one is on a long-term business trip, it makes the stay a little easier to be ‘home’ for a little while in the evening.  I think that would be a really great step forward for the Oculus company to take, and for all I know they’ve taken it and their R&D department is furiously constructing new equipment for just that purpose.

Needless to say, this sort of virtual reality set is very cool on a number of levels. It’s affordable, immersive, adaptable, and generally awesome in all ways that I can think of. Save one… I wear eyeglasses. And apparently the developers have a solution for this problem too:

Most people can use the Rift while wearing glasses, however it also depends on the shape and size of the glasses. To accommodate as many glasses as possible, the Rift Development Kit comes with 3 removable sets of lenses.  Each pair has a different depth that place the lenses closer or farther from the users face.  In addition, the screen itself can be moved closer and farther away.”

The Oculus Rift. Testing the latest gadgets in the BBC Blue Room, 09/04/2014

Does the inside of the set not remind you of a Furby?

Flickr.com

So okay, forget what I said. The system is perfect. And I want one.

About Sarah Brunson

has always liked science fiction and fantasy. Dune, Lord of the Rings, the Last Unicorn, Jhereg, Grimspace, 2001, you name it, she was probably devouring it if she could find it. Two liberal arts degrees later, one wedding, going into business for herself as a freelance editor, then signing on as a contractor to do some medical editing, she's at a place where I'd like to publish some fiction for herself.

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