Some ski slopes are more dangerous than others, which is why mountain operators use designations like “black diamond.” Now, virtual reality is getting something similar.
Oculus VR held a press event early this week as part of the Game Developers Conference, and the company revealed that it has a system in place to determine the comfort level of a VR game. The Facebook subsidiary launches the Rift on March 28, and it showed off around two dozen games that come in three varieties: comfortable, moderate, and intense. In the documentation provided that Oculus VR provided to GamesBeat, each of these levels had an accompanying symbol to further illustrate the dangers using the headset poses to someone who can get motion sickness in simulations.
The idea that VR can cause discomfort is no revelation. This is one of the problems Oculus has worked to solve since first introducing the Rift’s development kit in 2012. Despite that, it hasn’t overcome the problem, and that’s likely because developers want to make games that require fast movements. And making your brain feel like it is moving while your body feels no change in momentum or velocity is a recipe for disorientation and light-headedness.
At the Oculus event, I went played games in the comfortable, moderate, and intense categories, and I was surprised how accurate the company’s ratings were.
AirMech, a real-time arena battler that feels like a magical board game, has a comfortable rating, and I never felt off for a second. The Climb, Crytek’s mountain-scaling simulator, has a moderate rating, and I felt OK most of the time. Occasionally, looking down over a cliff made slightly wobbly in the knees. Eve: Valkyrie, CCP’s dogfighting space fighter has an intense rating, and my the quick turns and flips were enough to throw my equilibrium into disarray.
Now, I really think I could play AirMech or The Climb for hours. I was in The Climb for about half an hour. After conquering The Alps level, I was ready for more. I think I’ll probably want to play Eve for long periods of time as well, but I can see myself needing a break from that more often than anything from the moderate tier.
FOculus doesn’t seem too concerned about the intense games. It is shipping Rift with Eve: Valkyrie in addition to the platformer Lucky’s Tale, which has a moderate rating.