Gaming has always received a pretty bad rap from the media. It’s not unusual to see wild allegations such as ‘video games are the cause of mass shootings’ or ‘video games are ruining the younger generation’.
With the launch of the world’s first true virtual reality technology, the ‘Oculus Rift’, just around the corner, surely these problems are just going to get worse? Society will most likely collapse!
But when I see these doomsday predictions, I can’t help but ask, why so serious? This new product is an incredibly exciting advancement in the world of gaming and I highly doubt it will have the deadly effects the media is always spouting.
The ‘Oculus Rift’ is an unprecedented breakthrough into virtual reality technology. With two angled screens inside a head mount casing it presents the user with a completely immersive experience. Using gyroscopes and other amazing technology it can track the movement of the users head to control movement in game.
For most gamers, this presents an exciting and new experience. The demand for the project is evidenced by the support it gained on crowdsourcing website www.kickstarter.com. The producer put up an original funding goal of 250,000 dollars, and at this point it has reached almost 1000% funding with nearly 2.5 million dollars currently pledged to development. That’s a pretty good measure of how excited the gaming community is for this development.
(To check out the oculus rift on kickstarter.com follow the link bellow
But for some gamers, the ‘Oculus Rift’ is more than just a cool new novelty. The Rift will allow many disabled gamers to access and interact with games in ways that have been impossible in the past.
The Able Gamers foundation is a group dedicated to helping people with disabilities access gaming. They build customized gaming rigs to suit the individual needs of people with disabilities.
I contacted the Able Gamers to ask them about their work and what the oculus rift will mean for the disabled gaming community.
A spokesperson for the group named Steve said that gaming is a powerful medium that opens windows into an otherwise inaccessible world for many with disabilities. In virtual worlds you can run, jump and soar like everyone else no matter your disability.
“So in essence, it’s not about the videogame so much as it is about providing a social outlet and even playing field,” Steve said.
The difficulty comes with the fact that games and their control interfaces are not generally made with disabled accessibility in mind.
The Able Gamers do a lot of work making customized controllers and software interfaces. But these modified individual solutions don’t come cheap, with many costing between 2-3 thousand dollars.
(To see some of the amazing work the able gamers have done with customized controllers, follow this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM8iNa87-Po )
The Oculus Rift will be a powerful tool for gamers with disabilities as it only requires eyesight and the function of the head and neck in order to be used.
“For the person with audio impairments or slight mobility impairments, Oculus will be amazing.” Steve said.
Steve also said that AbleGamers sincerely hopes technologies will be developed to work along with the device to make it as inclusive as possible.
So, when someone starts spouting game hate at you, saying that ‘violence in videogames is the worst thing since Hitler’, just ask them “why so serious?” Then tell them all about the Oculus Rift and what it will mean to the disabled gaming community.