Oculus Rift, a product of Oculus VR Inc. (OR), is a headset that fully immerses a player into a game; the platform also has a “Head Tracking Kit” allowing developers to write software for the “field of vision” (FOV) “virtual reality” (VR) head mounted display (HMD). OR is the latest and greatest hardware platform that could eventually take the form of a “neural implant” where gaming takes place in the brain!
The following Kickstarter video helped OR exceed their $250,000 goal ten times or at total of $2.43 million in just one month. This healthy “take” will allow OR to continue development. As described below, gaming software too has advanced significantly from it’s origins 25 years ago; the new combination of hardware and software is leading to heretofore unimagined and unexperienced synergies.
Convergence of New Technologies Revolutionizing Gaming Hardware
A number of technologies are converging, making it possible for companies like OR to provide a much more immersive experience than gamers are accustomed to. Developers are leveraging the ever increasing power of computer processors, affordable sensors, and “haptic sensation technology” to make new gaming tools.
Games are now almost entirely controlled by sophisticated game pads. But new systems have many more inputs: emotional response, heart rate, facial analysis, voice analysis, electrical activity in the skin, eye tracking, pupil movement and dilation and brain activity. “Neural gaming” will be built upon augmented and virtual reality technologies. Google Glass is just the first step. Eventually “neural implants” may be the platform for gaming software.
Oculus Rift Benefiting Greatly From Software Design Lessons Learned Over 25 Years
Carefully designed gaming systems include elements that pull players in, are fun and even addictive. Designed into games are achievements, appointment dynamics, avoidance, behavioral contrast, behavioral momentum and blissful productivity and many others.
There are various theories of game design such as cascading information theory where successful basic actions unlock more capabilities as a player advances through levels. Another is called chain schedules where rewards are linked to a series of actions, for example, killing 10 aliens allows one to enter a monster’s cave.
Recent additions to gaming include communal discovery like the DARPA balloon challenge or McDonald’s Monopoly game. Companion gaming involves games played across multiple platforms; Xbox can be played across platforms without any noticeable change in capabilities.
The advances in gaming are literally mind blowing; but when one considers the number of hours humans have “invested” in gaming advances are to be expected.
More Cool Gaming Concepts:
- Contingency – this involves a problem that must be overcome in order to receive a reward
- Countdown – players are only given a specific amount of time to accomplish something. This is also called “forced extinction”. This is typically seen in games where players have a specific number of seconds to score points and reach bonus rounds.
- Cross situational leader boards – players are presented with different scenarios in which some players have advantages and others disadvantages. This is akin to life in the real world where some feel life is full of inequalities. Games are designed to tweak this very human emotion.
- Disincentives – these are game elements that apply a penalty or a changed environment to cause a player to change their behavior.
- Endless games – a game like Farmville is an endless game, but the game is continually evolving and providing fresh content and new challenges that keep the game interesting.
- Envy – this is a game design element in which players experience envy in wishing to have what others have; again, a very human emotion.
- Epic meaning – some games are designed to present players with a challenge to achieve something fantastic. Warcraft has an ongoing storyline and motivates players to achieve individual but seemingly transcendental quests.
- Other gaming concepts include: extinction, fixed interval reward schedules, free lunches, interval reward schedules, lotteries, loyalty, meta-games, micro leaderboards, modifiers, moral hazard, ownership, pride, privacy, progressive dynamic, real-time versus delayed time, reinforcers, rolling goods, shell games, social fabrics, status, optimism, viral mechanics and virtual items.