This past weekend, my uncle acquired one of the new PlayStation 4 virtual reality gaming system. Being a big gamer myself, this was one piece of next-gen technology I couldn’t wait to try out, mostly because so much of it depends on head movement and not so much using a controller.
For those unaware of just what virtual reality gaming is, you put on a headset which you look into (as photographed) and inside contains a screen as far and as wide as your eyes can see that very cleverly resembles real life when turned on and as you rotate your head, the more you see around you. It truly is standout piece of equipment, although scarily, this is just the beginning of the ‘VR era.’
As aforementioned, I’ve always a huge fan of video games. Growing up I was always asked how I manage to hold a PlayStation, just like most things with limb-different adaptation, I never gave much thought as to how I went about learning to use a joypad and could never really explain it. Sometimes it just comes to you. Even in writing this, I stopped for a moment and held my controller to examine just how I do it.
If I can break it down slightly, I hold it into my stomach to keep it stationery, have my pinky finger cover the right back buttons and the other three fingers lean over the front of the pad in order to press the triangle, circle, square or X button. From there I can push my fingers onto the analogue stick. This is actually the first breakdown I’ve been able to do as with most things in my life, I’ve just got on.
Back in the world of virtual reality, it really could be a groundbreaking piece of technology to allow amputees to no longer struggle. There is a sense of ease and relaxation when just using your mind and truly entering a new world. We’re entering an era now where technology, both in the crafting of prosthetics as well as having tasks completed for us with fascinating new machinery that soon enough, struggle will be no more.
That’s both good and bad as adaptation is compulsory part of everyday life as you must learn to overcome situations to make yourself a better person. In gaming terms, however, it can only help complete the all-round real-as-it-can-be experience.
Anyhow, as much as I loved the experienced, there was a moment where I became completely freaked out. I was playing a demo called ‘London Heist,’ and at one point found myself sat in a bar where I had to pick up a cigar off the table and light it. You may have a sense of where this is going.
As I picked up the cigar, I thought it may hover in order to light it. However, I pressed the ‘R2’ button to switch hands, look to my right and see a full, normal right hand gripping and releasing. As I moved my actual hand around, the virtual hand I was seeing was copying the action! It’s okay, you can laugh, as I did hysterically. Despite knowing it was only animation, I became so immersed that it felt like my real hand.
Weirdly enough, the technology wasn’t the only groundbreaking moment. As cool as I found it, it was at that point I truly knew I’d accepted my club hand as I looked back at the very real looking animation, I completely forgot about the game and thought about my life if I had a normal hand and, bizarrely enough, I knew I wouldn’t want it that way. I could go down many roads from here, but for the sake of this topic, I shall refrain.
Despite that moment of deep thought in the middle of a highway shoot-out, it was great to have that experience. I feel that I saw many things about myself in a different light and as unexpected as it was to have these thoughts in that time frame, that’s one of the capabilities of virtual reality, especially in games with high-pressure situations; you think deeper and experience much more for yourself. For this, I’m much more thankful of what I was given. I’ve always accepted my position and embraced it, but PlayStation’s virtual reality, in its own amazing, far-out way, helped solidify it.