How I broke my VR skepticism and found a coronavirus shelter emotional escape ?


4 min read

How I broke my VR skepticism and found a coronavirus shelter emotional escape

GIF representation of virtual reality


This was the idea I had on a Monday afternoon after about 45 minutes inside my VR headset. I've just barely moved. I was surrounded by a forest. A bird perched on a branch of a tree. My hand held a controller for video games. What I saw, however, was a futuristic airbrush, a paint sprayer that looked like a prop in a sci-fi film from the 1940s.


A button touch and I've been able to color the world. The bird was purple before me. It was pink then. Then blue. Then blue. Then again pink. I fired a feathered creature in a random color as if I were Flora, Fauna and Merryweather all in one, playing the chroma of the cosmos as if I alone had the power of the "Sleeping Beauty" fairy godmother.


Soon the alarm rang on my mobile. This was my intention to remove the VR headset and roll on the radio to listen to another sobering Mayor Eric Garcetti 's address. I sat up as the Mayor of L.A. talked, my eyes scratching my coffee table. Enlightened by the late afternoon heat, the wear avoided my vision for a long time. After spending the day in an increased reality, I was suddenly more in tune with my very real, very dusty environment. The delightful world of "Color Space" was very far away.



Space Color

Get lost in a "Color Room" (Lighthouse) virtual coloring book.


During the first couple of weeks I tried to get acquainted with my place. When I chased my cat and lied with her, I wanted to see furniture as blocky skyscrapers as she could.


I tried to transform my home into a playground and this helped (and still helps) to ease my anxiety. I have to be frank with myself, however. I'm not emotionally in a good place. I see something outside my windows-whether the first floor mailbox of my 12-story apartment complex or recycling tanks at the end of the building-as places to be afraid.


Home is not a playground in this head-space; it is a hidden place, at least until the pandemic ends-or the decline of the market leads to expulsions. What comes first right now feels like a toss-up. My home isn't comfortable anymore.


I found virtual reality in this moment. And I was, to be sure, cynical.


Burned too many times by the promise of a virtual reality revolution, many works felt like technological demonstrations rather than rich experiences. And although I love many animated VR shorts, they often discover that their charms can be enjoyed without a restrictive headset.


The underlying problem, beyond technology or expense, which plagued many VR experiences, is simple: Why do you ask me to put something on my head? The answer is all too often no deeper than "because it's more immersive."


Another important question came to light as the technology matured: How will this virtual reality world respond to me and make me acknowledge?


It doesn't mean that I'm transported to a virtual world all around that allows 360-degree views; I'm just taken out of the experience if my being isn't recognized. Consider it as an awareness of the product, which is not only a player or a viewer, but more like an actor. I enter a world to play, and the less the world sees my appearance, the less patience I have to spend time in it.


"The difference is the feeling of presence," said VR industry veteran Jesse Schell, whose early VR success story in Schell Games was inspired by the "I Expect You To Die" escape room.


'If I film two people sitting at the table to make a movie out of it' says Schell, 'two persons, having a conversation and meeting one another. When I do the same thing in VR, the participant is thinking 'Why do they notice me? Right now, it seems strange to be talking and not knowing it here.


And so late that Monday afternoon, I switched off the radio and waited for the hole in the rabbit.




Rabbit Hole Down

"Down the Rabbit Hole" is a world of dioramic settings for the VR user.


A cat, suitably named "Down the Rabbit Hole," is lost in an experience in virtual reality. A diorama like world-surroundings familiar to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the "Alice in Wonderland" of Lewis Carroll, encircles me in the headset.


It is not so much transported to another dimension as I go to a more innocent age, one full of childlike wonder. I just have to imagine that a toy rabbit or a doll is alive; I step ahead of me and with me, so that I can lead them. I see the world at a moment from their viewpoint. Some time I pull their rooms towards me, or place them above me.


I want to go, even if the books on the rabbits' shelves are not written in a known language.


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"Father Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series," a piece by Lucasfilm's ILMxLab, began playing but gradually developed into an image of immersive theatre. Then, Dreamscape invented location-based explorations, where world buildings are so exquellent that their 20 to 25-minute adventures will always felt too short even if they are so exquisite.


Recent events, particularly during the past year, from the theater "The Under Present" to the incredibly detailed puzzles of "The Room VR: A Dark Matter," or even the vibrant book-inspired "Color Space" show that virtual reality has begun to fulfill its long-hyped promise.


It was a gradual change.



Moss Moss


In the "Moss" VR game, the characters are aware that a human is looking at them.


"Moss," released in 2018, is one of the first VR games to use platforming techniques. However, the game, where the player was playing the role of a sort of world supervisor leading a sword-fighting mouse by the name of Quill, was one of the first to reawaken my interest in the medium after the hype that Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR launched in 2016.


In Moss, Quill knows the player 's response and sometimes communicates and asks for help without a word. Dialogue at an early stage implies that we humans played a role in this festive universe, creating an early mystery around our presence.


In the past few months alone several major VR updates have been announced, with developers beginning to expel more details for the Oculus Quest autonomous headset, a system that allows VR of high quality reasonably accessible while working separate from the cord and without the need for a costly computer.



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"The Room VR: A Dark Matter" is the best solitary VR experience I've had, which has saved and enjoyed, partly because its puzzles are apparent and partly because the world was built to reflect.






"The Room VR," Schell agrees, is "one of the most elaborate experiences in VR ever made." Set in London in 1908, the urban world of the game is romanticizing the gloom of rain-swept cobbles. The only outdoors that we experienced in over a month were short seats on my building's fire escape, so I was happy to just chill on a London balcony to listen to the story of far-away riders.




The VR Room


"The Room VR: A Dark Matter" setting is rich in detail, and the game feels relaxed until it's spooky.


Simply booting “The Room” creates a cozy, in-the-cold sensation, only the mystery that unfolds is a bit spooky and constantly toys with us. And yet it never does so in a jostling way (I avoid most thrillers and all things horror). Instead, the game invites us to interact with much of its environment and at times has us wearing virtual glasses to illuminate a world-within-a-world. When utilizing this game mechanic, I am now two steps away from the real world, making the virtual one feel even richer.


Of course, these brief respites from the real world are cheap. The headset that makes the most sense is the Oculus Quest, which, if you can find it in stock, sells for either $ 400 or $ 500, depending on the storage size. The Quest has been hard to find since its release about a year ago, and the Facebook-owned company has stated production has been affected by the current health crisis.


I should also remember that I discussed Valve's "Half-Life: Alyx," the most talked about VR game released this year. I don't have the budget for the device that can operate it, so my basic laptop can cut it even with an optional cord that can be connected with the Quest.


And even for anyone fairly technologically inclined, VR is completely beyond my grasp of the near future. For now, the virtual reality is 1 percent of the game.


ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 29, 2019 - Sleeping Beauty Castle, at the end of Main Street, at Disneyland Resort,


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Article Author Larry Singul, Israel Virtual Reality 2013.