VR Takes Tokyo Game Show To The Next Level

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VR Takes Tokyo Game Show To The Next Level
September 19, 2016
Above picture: Girls testing motorbiking in virtual reality

It's a strange world in here.
 
The Tokyo Game Show was once the epicentre of the video gaming world — it's a giant trade show, where video game developers, buyers, industry analysts, journalists and fans swirl in a giant whirlpool of colour and noise. Companies wishing to display their wares set up booths for players to try out their games and ask questions of the attendants.
 
Big companies dominate the room — the level of noise and the size of the signage at each one seems directly proportional to a company's market share. In front of each booth are scantily clad women — usually representing characters from the game they're spruiking. They smile demurely and pose for photos or selfies with anyone who wants one.
 
The video gaming industry is enormous. Across the globe each year it rakes in about $US90 billion ($120 billion) and it's getting bigger. This year has seen a major development in the video gaming world. Pokemon Go was downloaded 500 million times onto devices across the world. It brought people who had never played video games before into the market.

aBOVE Picture: A group dressed in costume pose for a photo at the games exhibition. (ABC News: Rachel Mealey)
 
That game's success has shone a spotlight on the mobile-phone and tablet portion of the video game industry. Many at the Tokyo Game Show think their game might just be the next big thing in the mobile phone market. But it seems for true game enthusiasts, the future isn't just in mobile-based games. All of the hype of this year's Tokyo Game Show is surrounding Virtual Reality gaming, or VR.
 
Help a schoolgirl with homework or swim with sharks?
 
While the technology has been around for a few years, it's about to be adopted en masse. Big companies like Sony are about to release their versions of the virtual reality headsets — just in time for Christmas. They'll sell for about $400 and users can plug them in to consoles they might already own.
David Gibson is the games analyst for Macquarie Capital Securities. He says this year's model will start the ball rolling. "This is the first generation and it's a pretty high price, we're going to see another generation in a year or two, it'll be much more affordable for the consumer and therefore there will be a much bigger adoption," he said. "This is just a starting point."
 
The headsets look big and clunky - but they sit comfortably over a user's head and eyes. They turn everyone who dons them into an instant dag. You can't be cool and wear a VR headset.

The screen inside is not too bright, but immediately gives depth of vision and a sense of a 360-degree view. You can move your head and the picture moves with you. A popular game for the Japanese market is Sony's VR game Summer Lesson. You find yourself in a high-school girl's bedroom and she asks you to help her with her English homework. You have to nod or shake your head to respond.
 
She comes very close to the screen and you can hear her breathing. Grown men, some who appear to be in their 50s, are lining up to try out the game. It is creepy and disturbing. Other people queue for hours to try out a VR experience inside a shark tank. This is creepy and disturbing too, but in a much more acceptable way.
 
Brian Ashcraft writes video game reviews for Kotaku, a website with 10 million regular followers. He says virtual reality games have improved since the early days. "To be honest I was kind of jaded about VR, but I've played about 1 or 2 games that have changed the way I've thought about it and if it's done right, it's amazing. If it's done wrong, it makes you sick," he said.

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