With today being the dreaded April Fools Day, a barrage of ‘jokes’ designed to keep journalists on their toes in sometimes not obvious ways, VRFocus has decided to look at something a little more lighthearted: the accidents suffered by the team at the hands of virtual reality (VR) blindness. From damaged property to personal affliction, each member of the team has suffered in many ways through the passion to bring you the latest and greatest within the industry.
VR has the capability to accomplish a great deal. More than just entertainment, there are use cases across all manner of different industries including enterprise, education, healthcare and more. However, there are also pitfalls to the technology, arguably leading with blindness from the real world. Here’s the best and worst that has happened to the VRFocus team while immersed in all manner of videogames and experiences.
The Death of a Carpet
During a particularly intense quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR late last year, working hard on delivering the ‘My Life as an Adventurer‘ series over the holiday season, I found myself vigorously attacking a dragon with both magic and an equipped short sword. Two arms flying, I wasn’t even aware I had made contact with a refreshing glass of cola flavoured beverage resting upon my desk. It was a good 30 minutes later before I removed the head-mounted display (HMD), and discovered the black sticky contents of the glass had been dispersed across the floor, forever claiming its trophy upon my cream carpet. No amount of scrubbing could save this casualty of VR war.
– Kevin Joyce, CEO/Editor, VRFocus.
Ah, accidents. We’ve all seen, (and, let’s admit, taken varying degrees of glee in) footage of Victor Vive-User, Rachel Rift-Wearer and Peter PlayStation falling over themselves, running smack bang into a wall, or hurling their controller through their fancy new television while screaming their lungs out. But let’s be equally honest in that, when it’s someone we know who is trying VR for the first time it is a great experience to watch and see them enjoy it.
That said you want to make sure it remains such and incidents like those often play on your mind.
I often used the VRFocus Gear VR to ‘initiate’ newcomers into immersive technology. Which I might add, had an 100% rating of “this is awesome”. One such instance was when I was showing one of my best friends what VR could be like. We were at my house and conscious of the possibility of him hurting himself (as well as damaging my nice new television) we moved the furniture to make room and I kept a sort of watchful eye as he stood so he wouldn’t go backwards into the table behind him.
I forget what experience it was but it was some sort of horror title, perhaps Sisters. Creepy goings on were happening in any case. My friend was not scared however, in fact he was laughing.
“Oh. Hello!” He said cheerily to what I can only assume was an embodiment of imminent death and dismemberment. “You alright there? Yeah?” There was much laughter at his cool, couldn’t care less demeanour. Things wrapped up and I moved in to help him off with the headset and th-WHAM!
I staggered a pace backwards. I’d just been hit by a rocket uppercut, straight to the jaw. My friend having seen something had gestured wildly and unexpected and socked me one. It was so quick I wasn’t even sure what had happened at first. Weirder still my friend did not realise what he’d done. Nor apparently did my other friend (who was watching this all intently from the front) see what happened either.
Slightly stunned, I’d just been unwittingly sucker punched after all, I put the headset down.
“So.” I said, in between flexing my jaw in the way people do when they’re trying to get it to ‘settle’. “Enjoy the experience?”
“Yeah, great.” He replied.
“Good!” I exclaimed happily before thinking I’d hate to think what would’ve happened if he hadn’t!
– Kevin Eva, Digital Content Manager, VRFocus.
Isn’t Teleportation Real?
I spend a lot of time in VR, tending to be the main reviewer for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift titles. For all the videogames I’ve played, whether at home or at an event, I’ve never once properly injured myself or anyone else for that matter. Sure I’ve whacked a wall of two, wandered into a table, or seen a mate crumple to the floor scared shitless, but that’s yet to occur to me – which still surprises me.
However, I’m not completely immune to the powers of VR and its mystical ways. After a particularly long reviewing session I decided that some fresh air, sustenance and a proper leg stretch was in order so I decided to pop down to my local supermarket to grab some food. Stepping into the shop the bright, piercing, florescent lights seemed most dazzling but that wasn’t the issue. Standing at one end of one of those long refrigerated aisles I realised I had a yearning for sausages – about halfway up the aisle – so I turned and then wondered why couldn’t reach the delicious, pork filled food.
Well because I’d spent so much time teleporting around virtual worlds in VR, in that one moment, the briefest of seconds, I thought I could just teleport over (or more accurately had). Call it delirium if you want, but after realising the fact, my main disappointment was that I wasn’t any closer and now needed to walk on over. It’s never happened again – probably because I use smooth locomotion a lot more – but I’ll always have that moment where I though I could teleport my way out of hunger.
– Peter Graham, Senior Staff Writer, VRFocus.
An Acid Trip Without The Acid
I’ve been fairly lucky in my VR escapades so far. Up until reasonably recently, my main VR device was the PlayStation VR, and my set-up and the configuration of my living room mostly precludes any seriously wire-related mishaps, as does my habit of using the cable as a orientation aid (as I’ve discussed previously). That said, I did make one mistake early in my days of using VR. I decided it would be an superb idea to spent a good few hours engaged in playing Llamasoft’s excellent trance-shooter, Polybius. I emerged from that surreal neon landscape feeling like I had been on a days-long bender.
I could smell colours. Gravity was sideways. Every light source seemed to have a faint pulsing glow around it. Recognising the symptoms of an imminent migraine, I crawled off to spend some time having a nice lie down in a dark room.
– Rebecca Hills-Duty, Staff Writer, VRFocus.
Losing the VR Umbilical Cord & Female Problems
If you’ve watched any of VRFocus‘ videos where I’m seen demoing a VR videogame, experience or even MR – I’ve cut away all the embarrassing parts. Some of you may have caught the real Nina in a blooper reel done after Gamescom but it is in general a hazard.
I am well known for rolling or crawling across the floor with a headset on and backpack strapped on my back to test the tracking of the headset in a space. I’ve done so with the Oculus Santa Cruz, StarVR and various other out-of-home VR setups that use Optitrack to locate players in a space. What I’ve often found with these untethered experiences is that I’m often found floating around – and when the digital and real world don’t quite match up, I end up walking into a wall or bashing my controller against something as demonstrated in the image below. Future untethered VR will definitely have to have some instructions and soft cushioning that comes in the boxes!
Another one which quite surprised me was being unable to use the Go Touch VR attachments to my fingers and feel haptic feedback. This was because my fingernails were too long. I might be a rare breed of females playing VR with long fingernails, but that was a first. I certainly wasn’t going to go and find a nailcutter and cut my nails whilst running around the show floor! Something to bear in mind for all developers and engineers out there.
Though this isn’t exactly a cause for injury – for anybody who loves their hair, has big hair or doesn’t like looking dishevelled (especially when you have to stand in-front of the camera for a living); a few pointers. Never wear a ponytail (or style a whole outfit with the ponytail), it’s just not going to happen. Even with the HTC Vive’s audio deluxe headstrap, expect to take your beautiful ponytail out in order to have the headset sit comfortably on your head for the experience. Secondly, it’s advisable to put your hair in a braid of some kind. This is more relevant for the long periods of being in VR, because the moment you take it off – your hair can get entangled. Nobody likes their hair being pulled out.
– Nina Salomons, Video Content Producer, VRFocus.