While the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has its foot planted firmly within the gaming industry, the potential for its functionality has a far wider reach. It’s undeniable that this technology will have an affect on the core gameplay of video games in general, but the focal point inside games and out is the increased level of immersion. As such, the Rift presents a unique opportunity to place viewers in foreign or fantastic locales. One such example is that of the USS Voyager from Star Trek.
Rather than simply experiencing the iconic ship from science fiction history on a flat screen, a recently-released demo allows players to virtually step onto the same bridge that once played host to characters like Kathryn Janeway and Tuvok. Taken from the series Star Trek: Voyager, it’s likely that even those with little to no knowledge of the show will find something to enjoy in this tech demo.
In the demo, players can walk around the USS Voyager’s bridge and get an up-close-and-personal look at the screens, windows into deep space and sci-fi lighting that characterize the ship’s aesthetic. As players walk around the bridge, various “story events” will transpire from inter-ship communications to launching a salvo of heavy ordinance. There doesn’t seem to be a lot to experience interactively, but the quantity of the content is not the focus.
It’s the potential for the future virtual reality portrayal of science fiction that takes center stage. The Oculus Rift is very much a peripheral based around promises of the future, with its recent acquisition by Facebook being promised to make sense in a year’s time. In line with that, if this is what gamers can expect to see in the coming years when they take off into the stars, the genre and games like FTL: Faster Than Light could take on a new level of immersion.
While FTL works great with its overhead view, it would be interesting to see how a similar title would work as a first-person experience. Having to run through the halls of iconic spacecrafts, weaving between displays and lowly ensigns in order to manage multiple different tech stations could be not only a hectic experience, but one that differs greatly from what is currently available on the market.
Transcending sci-fi gameplay though, the immersive qualities of the Rift have even allowed a woman diagnosed with cancer to fulfill her wish to step outside once more. Due to her worsening condition though, Roberta Firstenberg was too weak to physically take those steps. With the help of her granddaughter Priscilla and the Oculus Rift, she was able to make that step outside. While it started with VR demos like Eden River, Ocean Rift and one simulating Google Street View, as a Seattle-based game artist, Priscilla worked to create the ideal digital world for her grandmother to experience. It is in this way that, while many focus solely on gameplay, the Rift holds a great amount of potential in providing life-altering experiences to those with no other options.
Having surpassed 85,000 developer kits sold, it’s clear that interest in the Oculus Rift is progressing at a steady pace. With upcoming space-exploration-heavy titles like No Man’s Sky and Star Citizen finding ways to implement the VR technology, it’s entirely possible that this could represent the future of gaming that players have been looking for for years. The extent of its implementation is still in its infancy but if current demos are any indication, gamers have an exciting year ahead of them.
Rift owners interested in trying this VR demo can find the download here.
What locale would you most like to experience “first-hand” through virtual reality? Do you think the future implementation of this technology would be a benefit to future spaceship simulation titles?
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