Virtual reality adds to gaming experience

November 28, 2019 — by Bill Yuan

Virtual reality, or VR, is becoming better and better with each year. 

Putting on a VR headset immerses the user in a world that can be essentially anything, from historic photos to far away worlds to elaborate games. Companies such as Oculus, Playstation and HTC have released headsets with this technology, and game developers have designed games for these devices. 

Nevertheless, most people haven’t taken a dive into this emerging form of entertainment since headsets come with a hefty price tag of $400 to $500. 

Luckily, I had the opportunity to borrow an Oculus Rift, the VR headset from the company Oculus, for a weekend and run some test sessions.

Setting up the Rift was very easy; after installing the software, it was essentially a plug and play. The software sets up the platform, walking through sensor and headset calibration.

My favorites of the games I tested were Superhot and Beat Saber, both purchased from the Oculus store for about $30 each.

Superhot, a shooter-based game where time moves as you move, has a 9/10 rating on Steam, a video game distribution service, and playing it in VR was a unique experience. Being able to move my hands to grab, aim and shoot guns was surreal, and is only something that can only be experienced first-hand. Seeing the bullets crawl toward me and moving my body to survive was thrilling and got my adrenaline running, something that the PC version could never achieve.

Of the games I played, the one I found myself going back to was Beat Saber, a rhythm game in which the player has to slice approaching blocks to the beat of the music. Even though this games involves little movement from the player, being able to stand and look around the game’s backdrop created an experience that couldn’t be replicated on any other platform. And being fully immersed in the world really made it different from other rhythm games.

VR gaming is something that everyone should try and probably will at some point as prices come down. A VR headset amplifies pretty much any game, even mundane games that require no movement. Just the fact that your whole vision is immersed in the game takes gaming to another level.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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