The Oculus Rift and Gaming’s Future: Inside the Boston Virtual Reality Meetup
Early one November morning, I crawled from my bed at an unearthly hour, got dressed, and began my hours-long trek from the comfort of my Connecticut home to the rather friendly streets of Boston. I was on my way to the Boston Virtual Reality Meetup, where I’d experience the Oculus Rift for the first time, get my hands on upcoming HD prototype, and check out some of the latest indie games coming to the Rift.
For the most part, my journey went well- after a train ride through scenic New England (during which the theme from The Raven wouldn’t stop playing in my head), I found myself in Massachusetts, staring down at my tablet. Google’s walking directions seemed a little strange, but I followed them and soon found myself at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center, better known as the NERD Center. And indeed, the tastefully decorated building was full of proud nerds- I didn’t spend too much time gawking at the lobby, though- as soon as I signed in, I hurried to the elevator and rode to the first floor. In a matter of moments, I’m face-to-face with Ichiro Lambe and Rohit Shenoy, the folks behind Dejobaan Games. I interviewed them, and we talked about how they got into game development, virtual reality, and the game they were showing off, AAAAaaaaAAAaaAAACULUS!!! an Oculus version of one of their previous games. Having tried it out, I can definitely say that the Oculus makes the experience a lot more terrifying- stick with us, as we’ll have the interview posted soon. We also got to talk to the folks at Aldebaran Robotics- check out our interview, which will be available soon.
After I checked out some really great games- my first was Disco Dodgeball. Helicopter sim Riftchopper really impressed me, and I also tried a Hawken demo with the HD Oculus Rift prototype. My verdict? Besides the fact that now, I feel the urge to play Hawken (though I can’t bring myself to begin without an Oculus), the HD prototype is going to be worth waiting for. While it was pretty clearly a prototype and some things were a little rough around the edges, it’s definitely a step forward in knocking down the barrier between games and their players. After that, I attended a keynote hosted by none other than Palmer Luckey, the 21 year-old inventor of the Oculus Rift. While the event was off-the-record, Palmer delivered his GDC keynote, which is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.
Afterwards, there was a Q&A session from the audience, during which I gained some interesting insights. I have to say, Palmer is really great at hosting these events- he turned what could’ve been a dull Q&A into a lively discussion- I particularly appreciated when somebody asked about education and Palmer explained how much potential there is for the Oculus outside of ordinary gaming. While I regret not being able to record his response, what he said boils down to the facts- the Oculus Rift will be affordable for educators, and opens up the possibility of really great VR field trips and Magic School Bus style learning.
Stick with us- we’ll be posting some really neat interviews from the event soon!