Do you want me to leave the door open or closed?
I’ve been thinking about this over the past year. I’ve always been a bit concerned about VR. Initially, I didn’t like VR. I mean, the concept I absolutely love. It’s a very typical gaming dream, but there are always a few things that always make me reconsider what VR is like for everyone.
I was always worried because I wear glasses, but that concern was easily thrown out the window since many devices’ official releases. I’m not too worried about that now. I was also worried about feeling sick from the movement, but that’s also a lesser concern now for me. However, that’s not always a small concern for everyone else. Some people will not be able to get over it very easily, and moreover some people may not even be able to control that. It’s like how some people feel sick on airplanes or boats. I don’t blame them for how their body reacts to such things. I think that may be an oft forgotten concern that really does affect a few people.
The two biggest concerns I have though are the ones that are definitely more of an effect on people as a whole.
The first thing is just plain access to VR. I’ve seen VR arcades and shops that are entirely set up for VR. It’s that expensive and unwieldy. It’s like how most people in the world don’t build roller coasters in the backyard. It’s something we pay to have someone host that. And the fact that we can have that for VR is telling. However, the same can be said for arcades, but that is a symptom of how gaming was in the retro days. It’s very possible that the VRcades…if that is what we’re calling them, are for a similar reason, but I can’t help but think it’s also because it’s just plain expensive. Most VR headsets also require a good computer to play them, and that’s not necessarily as accessible, or perhaps even realized by those who purchase it. Thanks to alternatives though, like PSVR, it should be easier for some.
Safety is a part of this concern as well, as that is access that is not easy to create. Unless you’re willing to move some furniture every time, having a safe space to play VR could be annoying. If you don’t live in a large house and live in a dense city area in places like Taiwan or Japan where the rooms are not big, VR can be troubling. It’s similar to how when the Xbox Kinect came out, it was a hassle to play in a small room. The same can be said for Wiimotes, but with VR you literally can’t see where you are in the room so that is even more dangerous.
I feel like these can be financial blocks for some people. Blocks that are not easily affordable. We can’t just knock down some walls and say we can use VR now. (Well, I guess we could but that’s a whole different thing going on there.) And some places like New York City or a tiny flat in England just aren’t fit for good VR. There better be pillows and stuff all around because with my luck I will fall on like, the sharp edge of a table. Ouch.
The second and even greater concern I’ve had for VR ever since its inception is physical accessibility. I’ve already talked about motion sickness. That belongs in this category. Other things like physical disabilities will make VR impossible for them. We’ve already come a long way with things like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and groups like GameBlast that I’m very happy to see pointed out by gamers.
With VR I feel like these are further steps away for those gamers to have to reach for. It’s possible for a few cases for it to actually be easier for those with physical disabilities to use VR, but I’m sure there are a good amount that feel even more restricted. Some games that are exclusive to VR are now out of reach for those players. Imagine playing through Half-Life and then stopping at Half-Life: Alyx because of your physical disabilities. That’s not fun. Although there is a conversion mod for that, the reality is that the VR experience is just inaccessible for those gamers.
I’m not saying that we aren’t allowed to enjoy VR for those of us that can, but it’s just something that I think about for my friends that are limited in what they’re allowed to play. It’s already difficult for me when I have friends that can’t play because motion sickness is a thing, even after we’ve adjusted the field of view and effects as much as we can. It’s heartbreaking when something that may be even more severe like a disability further dampens their ability to enjoy things like games. I’m always grateful to see things like colorblind correction, subtitles, and even things like Bayonetta’s family friendly mode to make sure that we’re allowed to play what we want when we want. I just feel like VR is going to be an even tougher mountain to climb for those who already cannot.
I’m extremely grateful that we can enjoy video games. If I really do enjoy games as much as I say I do, I feel it is only right for me to want that joy to be passed on to as many people as possible.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next time.