With buzz climbing about the soon to arrive next-generation offerings from Sony and Microsoft, and an industry-wide focus on creating gaming experiences much like what we are used to, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is something of an outlier. Developed by Palmer Lucky, the co-founders of Scaleform and later joined by id Software co-founder John Carmack, the Oculus VR headset aims to bring low-latency, high definition virtual reality gaming into the living room and to do it at an affordable price.
After demoing a homemade prototype at E3 in 2012, the Oculus VR project launched off the back of one of the most successful Kickstarter drives in history, garnering industry-wide awareness and, more importantly, interest from both independent developers and the largest game studios around, including former Epic software developer and Gears of War co-creator Cliff Blezinski, and Valve Software CEO Gabe Newell.
As developer versions of the rift entered the market, the Internet exploded with videos of everyone from teens to 90 year-olds marveling, gasping, and sometimes toppling over from the virtual reality effect. One thing is for certain: it is easy to look silly while engaged in VR, but that may be part of its appeal.
While Sony and Microsoft battle over the traditional living room gaming space, offering fine tuned controllers and streaming to services like Twitch and YouTube but little innovation, the Oculus rift offers what some Internet circles are referring to as the “real next generation”. And while some users experience headaches, nausea and disorientation from wearing the 3D 1080p headset, the Oculus developers are confident they can work out the kinks prior to the product’s launch in 2014. Part of the issue is latency – that is, the amount of time, however minuscule, that passes between the time you turn your head to look at the dinosaur that’s chasing you and the time the Oculus needs to translate that motion into what you see. That issue has been all but solved in the lab, according to founder Palmer Luckey. “We’re going to be able to get latency to the point where it’s not even an issue,” he says. “It’s a completely nonexistent issue, completely beyond the level of human perception.”
With large companies developing already for the Oculus and further support mounting, one question on many people’s mind is, what does VR gaming mean for porn? In the past, porn has helped push technology into the main stream on a number of occasions, from home video to high definition cameras to helping to decide the Blu-ray versus HD DVD war. Now a number of erotic games are being developed that support the Oculus. Some, like 3D Heaven 01, are as simple as putting you face to face with incredibly detailed 3D body scans that allow various textures to be applied. While not overtly erotic, the amount of detail is reportedly astonishing, and the tech demo is just a first look into what is possible.
Other companies are developing full games and simulations, including developer ThriXXX’s virtual pornography game Chat House 3D, which will include an Oculus Rift enabled “voyeur mode”. 3DXChat, which supports the VStroker adult accessory, interfaces with the game to supply haptic feedback where applicable.
While many of the first forays into Oculus development have been crude or unwieldy, the future of gaming is certainly more interesting with this kind of technology on the table. With Sony reportedly already in development of its own VR headset in anticipation of the Oculus Rift’s success, we may soon be living in a world full of 90 year olds gazing up at the virtual nether and gasping in delight.