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VR Makes a Big Showing at E3

Photo Credit: Julie Ershadi - Playing FFXV on PSVR
Virtual reality technology practically dominated the show at this year’s E3 gaming industry conference. Conversation among attendees was abuzz with talk of headsets, what games they couldn’t wait to try, and what role VR will come to play in the gaming industry down the line. To complement the speculation, companies big and small at the convention offered a good variety of different headsets and games to test out in the new mode.

It was in the Playstation demo booths today that I had my first-ever VR experience. I signed up for a spot in line to play the VR demo of Final Fantasy XV, in which players and two NPC party members fought to take down a Behemoth, the franchise’s recurrent giant-evil- bull-thing enemy. When my turn came, the PSVR rep told me there was a fun little prize at the end if I managed to beat the encounter.

Photo Credit: Julie Ershadi -  PSVR Aim controller, which Sony claims will have 1:1 precision for shooter games.
Once inside the game, I fired a pistol at the Behemoth and warped back and forth around it, fighting to survive and see what this surprise was at the end. After being thoroughly disoriented and blurting out a few expletives from pure overstimulation, I felled the beast and was rewarded with a scene in which I rode in the passenger seat of a convertible driven by Cindy, a female NPC in the game. Inside the headset, a full 360 degrees of scenery was visible in front of, behind, and all around me, creating a true immersion experience. When the headset came off, it took a minute to transition back to reality in the exhibit hall.

Photo Credit: Julie Ershadi -  PSVR headset inside a glass display case
One exhibitor with talk of a VR system, but nothing yet to show, was Microsoft. The company announced its VR-capable console, codenamed Project Scorpio and scheduled for Holiday 2017, at its press conference on Monday. Besides that announcement, little else has been made public regarding Project Scorpio, but Microsoft claims it will sport “high-fidelity VR.”

Smaller exhibitors, including Oculus, Vive, and others, also gave attendees a taste of their take on VR. Cubicle Ninjas, an Illinois-based design company, gave 10-minute demos of its visual meditation app, which can be used with a Samsung phone and VR headset.

When asked why they brought meditation to a video game convention, James Hanke, Cubicle Ninja’s marketing representative, said, “You wouldn’t think so, but studies have shown that American workers do not take a scheduled break as often as people of other nationalities do.” Probably true -- and with all the excitement at E3, a meditation break was sorely needed.




About the Author

Julie Ershadi is a journalist based in Los Angeles. She has covered culture, lifestyle, Congressional politics and Iran-U.S. relations for a variety of publications. She can be reached at julie.ershadi@gmail.com and on Twitter as @jershadi.

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