Predictions: Mary Gao

Over 1 Million People Attend Coachella in VR

The music festival giant’s first virtual reality concerts were very well received by eager online fans. More than a million fans tuned into concerts streamed by the Youtube/Spotify/Coachella collaboration. VR tickets were just $25 per show which is nothing compared to the exorbitant costs of actually attending the festival. Inside sources tell us the price will increase after the inaugural year. Nevertheless, 1 million fans from more than 80 countries is a very promising start to perhaps VR’s next biggest trend.

Chinese Company Produces an Exact Copy of Apple’s 32K VR/AR Headset

Apple’s game changing 32K headset has been perfectly replicated in ShenZhen by multiple Chinese companies. Or at least so they claim. Stay tuned as we compare them side by side. 32K headsets have revolutionized the VR/AR industry with more than 1 in 5 households now owning a set. While Apple was first to the market, the quality has been copied by multiple US companies and many Chinese companies as well at a fraction at the price. China and US companies continue to compete head to head in the VR/AR race.

Augmented Reality So Common, is it Even Noteworthy Anymore?

When Pokemon Go came out (6 years ago?! What?!) it validated the AR industry as it was really the first time AR so pervasively hit the mainstream. But now it’s 2022 and you can build your own AR apps easily, every app has an AR feature, it almost feels rare to view reality as it is. Augmented reality has renewed the debate about whether technology has helped us interact with the world or sucked us into our screens. And even if it did, you can’t really blame AR, because it’s everywhere!

Elite US Prep Schools Give VR Headset to Each Admitted Student

Remember the days when admittance letters came with just a piece of paper and pride? Well, the top 3 high school prep schools in the United States now all provide VR headsets to admitted students who enrol. This caused mixed reaction across the internet as some feel that VR is just another example of technology that is only accessible to the wealthy and elite. Other VR proponents and nonprofits adamantly oppose this view and continue to preach the democratizing possibilities of VR. The verdict is still unclear. 


3 Most Moments

List Your 3 most compelling/cool techniques/innovations/styles/moments that you’ve seen/heard/read of in VR (in no particular order)

  • When I played Spark of Light (Samsung Gear) and felt a sense of depth that I had never experienced in VR before. There was something about the vibrant colours, seamless graphics, great resolution, and most of all a very obvious sense of depth that was just breathtaking.
  • Explosions. I think explosions are cathartic. I want to see a ball of rainbow colors burst from an orb, or pandora’s box in VR, or an inception-style-the-whole-world-explodes scene. I don’t know why I have such an urge, I just think it would be even cooler if I could yell and jump and the more energy I gave the more the room exploded. It would be stress relieving.
  • No remote control or gloves, but an actual sense of touch. That would be such a cool frontier to break. Once the touch sense gets added (flawlessly), it kicks up realism to a whole new level.

-Mary Gao

4 More VR Reviews

Daydream Blue (Samsung Gear)

8/10 #enjoyable #calming #virtualworld #easyinstructions #create #quests #minigames

Enjoyable is probably the best way to describe this game, not bad, not great. The scenery is pleasant, the characters are pleasant, it’s an escape into simply a serene camping ground. It reminds me a bit of Runescape/Minecraft type of games where you have to go on mini-quests to build/ buy things. Judging by the online ratings as well, I think most people agree that this game is by no means revolutionary, but nice for what it is. It’s multiplayer which is interesting but I didn’t have a chance to experience that.

Spark of Light (Samsung Gear)

8/10 #greatsenseofdepth #vibrantcolors #gorgeousgraphics #cutecharacters #notoverlyintuitive

This game has an incredible sense of depth. I’ve never thought about a good or bad sense of depth in VR until I experienced this and realized it’s just much better done than other titles. The colors are very vibrant, the characters react in a quirky and quite realistic way, all in all it’s a beautifully designed game. There are minimal instructions which make the gameplay challenging, this can be good or bad depending on whether you find it a fun brain teaser or rather frustrating. I really enjoyed the graphics but was not very interested in the gameplay.

Star Chart (Samsung Gear)

8/10 #educational #explore #beautiful #space #straightforward

This has to be reviewed with the understanding that it’s meant to be educational, not necessarily fun. For that purpose, it’s excellent. If I was a student and learning about the galaxy, I would literally be blown away by being transported into space. The instructions are useful and simple, the amount of information provided per planet is great, and visuals are enlightening (e.g. viewing the dark side of the moon). Finding a specific planet can be a bit challenging, but I think that’s actually more realistic than the 3D models I used growing up. I think Star Chart is an excellent example of educational VR.

Moss (PS4)

8/10 #vibrantgraphics #littleworld #godlikeperspective #adventure #fighting

Unlike a lot of adventure games, this isn’t played from a first-person perspective but rather the third-person, as if you’re God watching this mouse (Quill) go on an adventure. It’s interesting because every scene is very small, intimate, as if you’re looking into a dollhouse. The scenery is really well done and the gameplay is very realistic (e.g. Quill behaves in a way on-part in terms of realism with non-VR games). My only quip is that I personally just don’t like fighting games and was surprised that given such cute characters, it turned out to be a fighting game.

-Mary Gao

4 New VR Reviews

Eclipse Edge of Light (Google Daydream)

7/10 #learningcurve #confusinginstructions #mysterious #puzzles #goodgraphics #alone

I had high expectations for this game and was somewhat let down. To begin with, the Google Daydream headset didn’t completely block out my vision (there was a gap at the nose bridge) and that really bothered me throughout. Also, the resolution of the headsets based on a phone is just never as high as I would like it to be. The instructions for the controls were confusing and that was frustrating (e.g. spending minutes figuring out how to move forward, how to throw an artefact). The graphics were well-designed and the storyline was somewhat compelling (but the confusing instructions detracted from the storyline).

Virtual Virtual Reality (Google Daydream)

7/10 #funny #greatvoiceacting #difficult #clever #goodgraphics

The characters are very funny, in fact the entire concept and execution is very clever. The game is about being a “human labourer” in a world where humans are obsolete and the “stupidness” or “silliness” of humans is very smartly integrated into gameplay. For example, as you’re getting used to the controls, your guide will make sassy/trying-to-be-compassionate-towards-stupid-humans remarks about your inability to understand the controls. It was fun, but I didn’t want to play it for very long. The feeling of being unable to have precise control (a macro concept in the game) was actually infuriating after a while.

Blortasia (HTC Vive)

8/10 #drugs #psychadelic #artsy #breakfromreality #beautiful #flying #relaxing

This is definitely best viewed sitting down or laying down. The designer of this has definitely done some psychedelic drugs. It’s visually very well done and intuitive to navigate. The movement of “flying” was really good (you actually feel like your body was in motion) and I think quite applicable to future virtual art museums. Some particularly interesting moments for me was emerging from a dark tube and seeing the vast ocean and sun, as well as very slowly bumping into the churning walls and actually going through it. The HTC Vive completely covered my vision and the sound was well paired.

Audioshield (HTC Vive)

9.5/10 #SOGOOD #fun #hoursofgameplay #workout #unlimitedmusic #DDR

I highly recommend this game! It is like Dance Dance Revolution with your arms. You could choose from set songs or just pull something from Youtube which means you have unlimited options. The stages/sets (while there are only 3) are well-built and make you feel like you have more room than you do. The gameplay itself is probably 180 degrees which works very well. As you choose harder levels, the orbs come from a greater range of places (e.g. up, down, far to one side or the other). Visually, it’s so fun seeing the orbs explode when you hit them or go past you if you miss. Audioshield convinced me some games are actually better in VR (because it takes advantage of the VR aspect so well). After playing for a while, I was actually sweating, it’s a good workout. (I took off .5 because the orbs don’t always follow the beat which is annoying, matching the orbs to the music could be improved)

-Mary Gao

Week 5: 2 New VR titles

Becoming Homeless – HTC Vive

Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab created this piece which I think would be an excellent addition. One of my friend’s once told me by working with the homeless, she has realized how close many people are to becoming homeless. I think VR can really demonstrate that point through immersion. I also think particularly because the NYU population is often very privileged and the area we live in is so nice, it is sometimes difficult to show how close to home this issue really is.

I’m sharing their own description below because it’s very interesting:

“The Fundamental Attribution Error, as coined by Stanford Psychologists, describes how we blame others when bad things happen to them, but blame the external situations when bad things happen to us. There is a misconception that losing one’s home is due to who you are and the choices you make. Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience seeks to counter this irrational tendency.

Beat Saber – HTC, Occulus, PlayStation

*this game is supposed to be released early 2018, whatever that means

I want to play this so badly, think “Dance Dance Revolution” and “Guitar Hero” with lightsabers – a winning combination if you ask me. A problem I think frequently encountered with VR is building something people want to keep playing (rather than something to be experienced once). I truly think a game like this has the potential to be very addictive. An interesting note from the trailer is that the gameplay seems to only use 45 degrees at most, and while I understand why 360 gameplay might be annoying I think such a slim range of motion really undersells the potential of gaming in VR because it’s then not differentiated from normal DDR or Guitar Hero. I can’t confirm this until it is released though.

Please watch the trailer, and other reviews, and buy the game, it looks amazing:

-Mary Gao

Assignment two: 4 old and 2 new

4 VR titles from the current catalogue:

Notes on Blindness – Samsung Gear

9/10 #beautiful #storytelling #immersive

Star Wars – Sony PS4

7.5/10 #linear #nicegraphics #fun

Accounting – HTC Vive

7/10 #annoying #interactive #crass

Horizons – Google Daydream

7/10 #interactive #immersive #boringafterawhile

2 new VR titles:

Land’s End – Samsung Gear

Land’s End is an adventure game combined with interactive storytelling. There are five worlds to explore and it takes around 30-60 minutes to finish. The reason why I’m attracted to this is because the landscapes look stunning and the gameplay seems calming. I believe VR can be very powerful for teleporting users from stressful worlds into calm worlds which is another factor that piqued my intrigue. Interestingly, the user doesn’t need a hand-held controller but rather plays through “the powers of their mind” which I’m curious to experience.


Eclipse: Edge of Light – Google Daydream

Eclipse: Edge of Light is a very well-rated game; the storyline is about crash landing on a bizarre planet and must explore to understand the planet’s past. I like puzzles and the reviews have been extraordinarily positive. It’s interesting to me that this storyline (of ending up in a foreign landscape and having to explore to discover the truth) seems quite popular (I’m thinking about Dear Esther) so I think it would be good to compare how different company’s tackle this storyline and what works and does not work.

-Mary Gao

Week 1 – Response to “16 Lessons for a VR-First Future From ‘Ready Player One'”

Least agree with: Network speeds and cloud computing capacity will be the key utility of the future.

I disagree with the points about the virtual world replacing (or being a greater priority) than the real world. Perhaps this is mostly me hoping that that will never be the case. I hope to never exist in a world where people would “prefer to be without water or gas for an hour rather than without constant high-speed connectivity.” I lived on an island with no cell service and minimal internet for 2 years; I think real human touch and in-flesh existence must always be the first priority.

Most agree with: Virtual currency will become more relevant to our lives than traditional currency.

Being in Shanghai makes me feel like I’ve been transported to a cashless future very suddenly. It clearly works very well. It therefore must be possible for most of the world to adopt virtual currency quite quickly.

-Mary Gao