We are on the doorstep of a video game revolution that seems to have hit a crossroads. On one hand, we have virtual reality, which allows us to put on a headset and pretty much EXPERIENCE anything. But it has its drawbacks and so far, what has been presented on the gaming side has been slim pickings.
On the other hand, we have augmented reality, which is when your own space around you gets manipulated by 3D hologram images you can oft interact with given the right interface (aka controller), but this is also in its earliest stages so we have seen very little.
But rather than these two mediums joining up and giving us VAR, which would kickass, it almost seems they want to go against each other as the next big thing. In conversation with like-minded geeks it always turns into a nerd debate:
Which one do you think will be better and which one has more staying power?
Funny thing, the answer is both, but let’s break this down a little further with some exploration on the subjects. Keep in mind, the title hints at AR vs VR but really, this is just a comparison of the two with some hopeful speculation on how they will play out as well as their potential longevity.
Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality Pros and Cons
I beat the game without the TRON helmet on my face and that was already scary enough.
First off let it be known, when VR is done right (which, so far, has not really been the case) it is astounding. Gone are the limitations of a TV screen and the distant between you and it. Make no mistakes, it pulls you INSIDE the world they are creating and leaves you there.
Problem is, outside of a few key moments in Batman VR and the shit your pants moments of RE7, there is VERY LITTLE out there for virtual reality right now that makes the actual tech shine, and that is a problem. We know it needs time to develop, but let’s not forget, VR has existed since the days of the dreaded Virtual Boy, so there HAS been time:
THE worst fucking console of all time. Migraine Boy would have been a better name.
The other problem is VR sickness which I have addressed on this site before. The reality is, when an environment surrounds you and you sway when you walk or turn at 60 frames per second every three seconds, motion sickness settles in quickly. And NOTHING pulls you out of a game quicker than having to rip your headset off to hurl. Migraines will be a big issue over time, too, as people will come to learn. VR needs to master those things before it can master the gaming war.
BUT (and blah blah in the but)…
Once they get this tech right and start spitting out better games (that come with motion sickness patches and are more than a tech demo, not even kidding), VR might just be what we all hoped it would be one day (us flying around in space or exploring alien colonies on foot or diving to the bottom of the sea). Truth is, the games aren’t there though the tech is so VR is not exactly selling out of consoles this early in, but don’t count it out yet, either. The potential here is insane.
Speaking of potential….
Augmented Reality Pros and Cons
Yes please?, The geek in me salutes this. This is badass shit.
The above example does a better job of explaining AR to people than I would be capable of. A manipulation of the space around you, Pokemon Go is a great example that a lot of people know of. Not exactly life-altering but still very cool to use your actual camera to see the little fuckers in your own environments (even if they were just essentially pasted on over it).
But AR is at a point right now where it is just being tapped into and developers are just now coming up with ways it can be used for gaming that I genuinely believe will eventually blow our minds. The problem is, all we see so far are fancy ass tech demos of things dropping into your living room that you need to shoot. As cool as it LOOKS, that gimmick would wear thin really quickly unless developers got wickedly creative (which is just what they should be doing). Also, Star Wars holochess for thee win. AR could make this possible (correction, already has. Kind of):
Science > Religion
Think about it, augmented reality games down the road could have you walking around your own house (without clunky headsets on, walking in to shit), taking out ghosts as they appear, shrieking. Or make a platform game where the floor REALLY is lava. Man, we have been playing that game since we were kids and AR could make it a reality. Problem is, if A.R means we are anchored to one room and forced to fight waves of one enemy over and over, there will not be much shelf life to it whatsoever.
Kinda cool but kinda lame at same time if it makes any sense. Playing stoned would be dope, though. Pun intended.
As seen in above vid, AR here is, in essence, an on-rails shooter (and no one likes those) in your living room or office. As cool as that may seem once or twice, that would get boring fast. Hell, it looks boring, let’s not lie here.
So it sort of ends up being a tie if this is VR vs AR. Virtual Reality needs to create better headsets (and whole stations so players can walk and such) to really become the virtual reality we all dreamt of owning one day. That and the games need to be more than “stay in one place and do stuff”, and the same exact things could be said for augmented reality as well. They are both anchored by thge same problems, and that is, ironically, being anchored in one place. Unless you can afford one of these which NONE OF US CAN.
I guess we just accept that we are in the infant stages with both of these (barely) new forms of tech and we hope over time they blossom into concepts and games that blow our minds and forever change the way we look at gaming eventually, but they are not there yet, or even close. Though I would say VR wins so far, I also have a few buckets full of vomit that would argue that. Why do I keep the buckets?
For this very reason, of course. Journalist credibility. Just ask me to see it. I take this job very seriously. Hell, I ate cat food once.