My Favorite VR Experience(s)
This post is my response to a discussion prompt in Udacity’s vr-developer nanodegree program.
I may be easy to impress, but I honestly haven’t found a VR experience I didn’t find amazing. It seems impossible to review just one favorite experience. I picked three of the most memorable experiences in games, art, and education:
My Favorite in Games
Eleven: Table Tennis VR is the ultimate Table Tennis simulator. One of my first VR experiences, and still my favorite game experience. I always loved to play in real life but I haven’t had the space and opportunities in my adult life anymore. Eleven makes it possible with table and game mechanics so realistic, I found myself trying not to run into the virtual table even though there was nothing to run into. It requires a bit more space than I had available (I hit my real-life bookshelf a couple of times when I jumped after the ball) but it is amazing how VR can create the illusion of a much larger space when there’s only little room in real life. In Eleven you can play against a computer or a real person across the Internet, which makes it even more fun.
My Favorite in Art
Tilt Brush I was surprised how intuitive and easy it was to paint in three dimensions, especially with such precision! I still remember how difficult it was to get started with 3D modeling using a standard keyboard and mouse. In VR it’s as easy as doodling with a pencil on paper. I was amazed that I could easily find my place in space to retouch little details and draw inside a 3D structure without getting lost. I could spend hours in this app and felt super-inspired. I want to explore VR as a tool to sculpt and create 3D models. What I also found very impressive is how much space is available - an infinite canvas. Upon further thought this amount of space could be a blessing or become a curse depending on how easily one can navigate, find and retrieve information. I think organizing and navigating space will eventually become one of the most important topics in VR once it’s used for more than a gaming experience with defined borders.
My Favorite in Education
Another incredible and also very surprising experience was Google Earth VR. There’s Google Maps, there’s Street View, but Google Earth VR takes it to a whole new level. You can be a giant walking across mountains or looking down to a city as a miniature model with details you could have never seen before. Or you can walk the streets surrounded by buildings as if you were really there. This is one of the most impressive examples of scale in VR.
The possibilities of VR seem endless, especially with all the highly immersive and interactive 6-DoF experiences I have tried so far. But what I find most astonishing is how VR gives you access to an infinite amount of space and the ability to change the scale. I’m surrounded by tight spaces all day at work, cars, in stores, in crowds, even at home - VR allows me to break out and experience freedom from any physical boundaries. But it’s not only to make me feel at home, I think this could change the world one day just like mobile devices broke the boundaries set by personal computers. Real space and devices may all get smaller, but VR will make room again.
I couldn’t help myself and had to add a few brief mentions:
Oculus First Contact, my first short but memorable contact with a robot who helped me learn how to use the touch controller. Beautifully designed, highly interactive, fun easter eggs.
Oculus Dreamdeck, a sequence of short scenes, each very impressive, but I’ll never forget the dinosaur running towards me and making me duck for real!
Mr. Robot VR Experience was a short but impressive example of how VR can enhance film making. One might expect an experience similar to 3D presented in a movie theater or a 360 degree video recording. But it was even more intimate as a stage play, sitting on the sofa right next to the star looking back at you. I hope this will inspire a new generation of film makers and artists to explore VR as a medium for creative, immersive story telling.