I know I’m supposed to be excited about the Oculus Rift. The technology seems pretty spectacular and reminds me of the excitement I felt seeing the Virtual Boy for this first time as a kid. The idea of a “virtual reality” headset has been around for decades and each iteration has captured the imaginations of those hoping to experience their favorite games in a new state-of-the-art and visually immersible experience. Who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon roaming the fields of Skyrim as if they were actually there or destroying the enemy team in a visually absorbing match of Team Fortress 2? But the videos showcasing this new technology haven’t really made me any more excited for the tech, in fact many of them make wonder if it actually is what they say it is. Without the actual headset itself, some of the footage of the Oculus Rift in action doesn’t make any sense at all; the two identical screens dueling to see which can give me a headache first. It feels a lot like being told how delicious a pie is by watching other people eat it.
The video above is just one of a handful of example that showoff the Oculus Rift, this time with Team Fortress 2. I’m not saying that it doesn’t look like it works or that it wouldn’t totally be cool to try, but without the actual headset these types of videos fail to show me anything about how it would feel to use. Imagine someone trying to show off how amazing 3D technology is by showcasing the blurry red and blue picture and without the use of the glasses. To their credit I guess this is a video that also shows off the treadmill functionality as well, which is actually really cool. Still, the vast majority of the screen is dominated by those two dueling screens.
I think for the Oculus Rift to be marketed effectively they’re going to have to come up with something other than showing me what it’s like without the headset. This video is a good example of what should be done, it’s only showing one screen (which is less headache inducing) and includes a real-time testimonial of what it actually feels like to use. It isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than showing me two screens and implying that I should just imagine the rest.
I’m still kind of psyched for the technology, don’t get me wrong, but they are going to have to do a better job of explaining what it’s like to use because so far most of the footage leaves a bit too much to the imagination.