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Virtual Reality Gaming: Playing with the virtual landscape

We’ve all seen those souped up speed racers, burning rubber down a neon Vegas strip, or mean looking marines storming across an apocalyptic wasteland. Or rather, we have, in the dizzying world of gaming.

With the advent of VR, gaming has taken a remarkably exciting step into the virtual world, bringing immersive, fully interactive stories to our living rooms. And with the dawn of such advanced technology, the opportunity for savvy brands to take cues from the gaming giants and inject a little virtual pizazz into their own work, is massive. We took a look at the virtual landscape to see how Virtual Reality is changing the way we game and why it’s a platform that’s firmly here to stay. 

PSVR – Out of This World

With a wealth of new headsets coming through every day, it was only a matter of time before the PlayStation big guns took the leap into VR. Their PlayStation headset, PSVR, is a spine tingling example of how viewers can affect the story, live out their own virtual tale and join the game from their own perspective.

“Crafting an out of this world landscape offers an alternate world, you simply can’t experience outside of VR”

One of PlayStation’s flagship VR titles, Eve: Valkyrie, reaches new levels of immersion and atmosphere, 80’s sci-fi writers could only have dreamed of. Crafting an out of this world landscape, the game’s developers put viewers right in the heart of space and offer the audience an alternate world, you simply can’t experience outside of VR. A sprawling, space age vista, complete with realistic space ship interiors and more war strewn space debris than you could possibly hope to explore / tear your way across.

Now straddling Vive and Oculus, it’s evidence that a VR experience crafted on one platform can live quite as happily across numerous headsets, satisfying a much larger audience. With actual control to influence the path of the ship and shoot down enemies in full virtual surround, Virtual Reality gaming flips the format on its head stepping towards even more engaged audiences, and it’s only the start. With dozens more PSVR titles on the way and a dedicated PlayStation channel, if you’re looking to join the developer race and take the bold leap into VR gaming, PSVR could be a good place to begin. 

Xbox One VR – Future Landscapes

Continuing on the theme of exciting, VR gaming news, computer wizards, Microsoft, confirmed last month that their much beloved Xbox One console would indeed getting its own VR headset in 2018. Codenamed ‘Project Scorpio’, the launch of their Xbox headset has been shrouded in mystery, with no real confirmations about the tech specs or even the type of content we can expect at its launch. There’s been chatter about full 4K gaming, with high-end virtual reality and HDR content (the tip top of virtual spec) – but even then, they’re keeping their virtual cards close to their chest.

“’Mixed Reality’ could merge the real and virtual / augmented world, into something truly interactive.”

One thing we do know, is that Microsoft are investing heavily in what they are calling ‘Mixed Reality’. Part of a bigger project for Microsoft, their newly termed ‘Mixed Reality’ has been making the internet rounds and promises to merge the real and virtual / augmented world, into something truly interactive. To use a technical term, ‘Holograms’ have been something ordinarily reserved for Star Wars sequels but with the investment from Microsoft in this ‘Mixed Reality’ format and their very own ‘HoloLens’ technology, consumers will soon be able to rotate and interact with elements in front of their very eyes.

So, what could Microsoft’s HoloLens and ‘Mixed Reality’ mean for brands and how could this affect the virtual landscape? By bringing content into our own space, it gives us a sense of ownership and adds a new level of interactivity to the virtual experience.

The potential is there to influence and adapt elements in real time within a virtual landscape, truly tailoring individual experiences. The possible applications of this reality in changing the way we learn, work and interact with others in this space is also incredibly exciting. Why sit back as a brand when you could take an active role in engaging with your audience. Watch this space – Microsoft and Xbox VR could spell big news.

Oculus – Wide Open World

Lastly but not leastly, are the VR mavericks – Oculus and their counterparts like Samsung Gear VR. With the console giants that are PlayStation and Xbox now firmly settled into the race, developers are turning to platforms like Oculus to craft innovative new virtual landscapes as a way of pushing storytelling and engagement forward.

“Developers are using Oculus to challenge the way we think about the virtual world.”

The current biggest outlet for Virtual Reality gaming still remains through PC’s and headsets like Oculus – open to eager developers leading the charge on immersive gaming. In fact, many indie games have found a home on this platform. And it’s not just about high octane action or space cadets taking over the universe. Developers are using Oculus to challenge the way we think about the virtual world and craft truly beautiful, emotional landscapes. ‘Dear Esther’ is a perfect example of how such an experience transposes onto the platform.

More fitting to call it an experience rather than a game, ‘Dear Esther’ is a unique creation where you focus less on interaction and more about your presence in the space and appreciating the environment you’re in. There’s so much talk about immersion and interactivity in virtual reality and whilst it’s undoubtedly important for the audience to interact with an experience, some brave developers are changing the way we think about the virtual world for good.

Creating deep engagement, simply by letting viewers wander, this exploration game running on Oculus Rift allows you to uncover the depths of a remote Scottish island, stumbling across natural beauties and pouring your heart out. It’s a love letter to an art-house novel, captured in VR and an experience which showcases how brands can harness the power of VR or even 360 to capture that sense of engagement, in a fresh, innovative way. It creates a deeper sense of empathy and revels in the fact that you have time to appreciate the space. So, if you’re looking to step outside of the virtual gaming box, the likes of Oculus could be the perfect partner.

VR in Gaming- Dear EstherWith so many options open to VR gaming and a wealth of wonderful headsets and technological advancements coming over the next year or so – bringing 4K, HDR gaming to our own virtual screens – it’s a ripe landscape for brands to get involved and offer something a little different. Whether you’re crafting a photo-real version of the Highlands, or a space race through the cosmos, there’s really no limit to VR gaming and the levels of immersion and interactivity you can craft.

Amy Durrant

Amy Durrant

Amy is a copywriter and all round creative type at Pebble Studios. With bundles of agency experience at Karmarama and her past life as a music, technology and design journalist, she has a love for all things creative.

Creative, Pebble Studios

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