Virtual reality (VR) is currently being geared towards older audiences due to the lack of currently available consumer products and a focus on perfecting the technology. However titles such as Lucky’s Tale are starting to show the first signs of potential for VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift to be used with children. Now a new report has stated that the device is indeed popular with younger audiences, suggesting that it has just as much of a future with children as it does adults.
The research, carried out by youth research and digital entertainment agency, Dubit and virtual reality consultancy KZero tested the kit with 12 children aged between seven and 12. Each child used the first development kit (DK1) with a range of experiences, with their reactions being documented.
“The overarching message from our sessions is that children love using Oculus Rift and felt immersed in the games in ways they’ve never felt before!” said Dubit head of research, Peter Robinson. “Comments along the lines of it being the best way to play games were common. Oculus VR may not see children as their core market but there’s no doubting the device’s potential popularity with kids.”
Despite the limitations of DK1’s low-resolution display and latency when using head-tracking, Robinson revealed that none of the children had complained of dizziness or illness. This certainly bodes well for the launch of the second development kit (DK2) next month, which combats both of these issues. He also revealed that the children had suggested that they would like to see the technology used in schools. Ideas ranged from virtual field trips to visiting historic scenes such as assuming the role of the captain of the Titanic.
According to Robinson, Mojang’s Minecraft was a popular suggestion for implementing Oculus Rift support as well as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty. Of course, this response is soured somewhat by the fact that an official Oculus Rift version of Minecraft was cancelled by creator Markus Persson follow the announcement of Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR in March 2014. Robinson even expressed hope that the creator would reconsider in light of these changes.
The Xbox 360 gamepad proved a popular choice of input for many children, though some suggested that peripherals such as steering wheels could be used to better effect. Even Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor for Xbox 360 and Xbox One was put forward as a possible input device. On average, children suggested the price for the device could be at around £430 GBP. For comparison, the upcoming DK2 can be pre-ordered for around £205.
It’s certainly encouraging to see children so enthusiastic about the device, then. It’s not yet known when Oculus VR will launch a consumer version of the Oculus Rift but expect it to be just as popular with kids as it is adults when it does. VRFocus will continue to follow any and all developments in VR, bringing you the latest.