Get real


When we speak to him at PSX, still spin­ning from our first ex­pe­ri­ence of Rez In­fi­nite (p38), Tet­suya Mizuguchi warns against the dan­gers of pur­su­ing real­ism in VR. It’s a po­ten­tial cre­ative cul-de-sac he’s in no dan­ger of strid­ing into with his jaw-loos­en­ingly psy­che­delic vir­tual-re­al­ity ren­di­tion of the Dream­cast clas­sic. Rez re­mains an idio­syn­cratic, refreshing cre­ation even to­day, and Mizuguchi goes fur­ther by re­ject­ing many of the rules that are grad­u­ally co­a­lesc­ing for VR de­vel­op­ers.

CCP’s EVE: Valkyrie (p42) is more tra­di­tional in its ap­proach to VR game de­sign, seat­ing the player in a solid-feel­ing space­craft and send­ing them out to bat­tle as one of sev­eral com­bat­ant classes de­signed to com­ple­ment other play­ers’ choices. But even this more fa­mil­iar setup re­sists the drudgery of re­al­ity for a dra­matic mini space opera in which con­scious­ness is trans­ferred from one cloned body to the next as re­quired, and fu­tur­is­tic-sound­ing lasers are au­di­ble through the vac­uum of a colour­ful, pain­terly space.

Deus Ex: Mankind Di­vided’s (p46) vi­sion of the fu­ture might not be de­signed to be viewed through a head-mounted dis­play, but Ei­dos Mon­treal is ad­her­ing to much of Mizuguchi’s logic all the same. The lat­est Deus Ex in­stal­ment is as fo­cused on flam­boy­ant fash­ion, ar­chi­tec­ture and art as it is on ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy. In all as­pects, the game strays as far from hum­drum do­mes­tic­ity as it can, and the re­sults are daz­zlingly un­fa­mil­iar.

But whether games are built with VR in mind or not, their ca­pac­ity to pro­vide new ways to ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­plore the world we live in is just as po­tent as the un­recog­nis­able places they might take us. By all means carve out new spa­ces and worlds for us to in­habit when de­sign­ing for VR, but keep in mind the po­ten­tial for re­flec­tion and sub­ver­sion in real-world ex­pe­ri­ences through what is the most im­mer­sive way of in­ter­act­ing with games yet con­ceived.

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