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Losing My VRginity to: DOOM 3

The past few weeks have seen our friends from sunny California getting in on the tell-all virtual reality (VR) beginnings, but this week we hear from someone a bit closer to home. Guildford based Born Ready Games’ Jamin Smith, Community Manager championing Strike Suit Zero, takes a moment to regale us with his very first time under the Oculus Rift.

Born Ready Games’ Strike Suit Zero is one of the most critically acclaimed videogames made commercially available for the Oculus Rift thus far, and  is currently undergoing a conversion process to launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. However, rumour has it that more is bubbling under at Born Ready Games and VRFocus will be sure to keep you updated with any new VR projects the team announces. In the meantime, we’re about ready to travel to Mars with Mr. Smith:

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“Before I’d actually gone and whacked a Rift on my face, the words ‘virtual reality’ only served to conjure up thoughts of Nintendo’s hideous red goggles from yesteryear; a device that failed to prove that VR was anything more than an overpriced gimmick.

That association was banished forever upon playing DOOM 3 with the Oculus Rift behind closed doors at PAX Prime, 2012. Virtual reality wasn’t shit! Hallelujah! It was clear to me then and there that it was going to change the way we play games in a very fundamental way.

At this point, in late 2012, Born Ready Games had backed the Oculus Rift Kickstarter – and were keeping a keen eye on its developments – but were still sceptical as to what Oculus could really bring to the table. Or at least I was. Surely this was the same gimmick but with a slightly trendier pair of goggles? Surely there was a very good reason why it failed to take off the first time.

Looking at the kit in front of me, I wasn’t filled with optimism. The goggles looked like they’d been hastily cobbled together in Palmer Luckey’s garage; a hodgepodge of wires, fabric elastic and black plastic. This was very much a prototype, I was told.

Strapping it to my face, however, all worry about the aesthetic of the thing seemed hilariously irrelevant. I was suddenly in a different world. Gone was the bland meeting room of the Seattle convention centre and in its place the dank corridor of a military facility on Mars, which consumed the entirety of my vision. I’m all about games that convey a strong sense of atmosphere, and this took that notion to another level.

The world reacted to acute movements of my head, and – while unnatural at first – I was quickly able to ignore the right thumb-stick on the game pad in favour of my head. It wasn’t long before one of Hell’s abominations came bounding around the corner, all teeth and snarls, and I jumped; I mean, I physically jolted backwards – the world of the game reacting accordingly. My inability to remain calm in the face of danger was directly affecting the game. It was clear that horror games in particular were going to revel in this next generation of VR.

I only played for five minutes or so – there were many important people waiting for their turn – but in that time I’d seen a glimpse of where games could be heading. This was the start of something big.”

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Jamin Smith is the Community Manager at Born Ready Games working on the Strike Suit Zero series. Additionally, Smith is also part of an indie collective, Incus Games, working on an original videogame experience known as Three Monkeys.