At Sony’s E3 2015 showcase, I had a chance to test out Project Morpheus, Sony’s virtual reality headset peripheral for the PlayStation 4. Virtual reality has been a dominant presence at E3 this year and I was keen to give Morpheus a test ride. Unfortunately, my eyes did not agree with me.
The headset itself is surprisingly light and easily adjustable, fitting comfortably on my head and over my eyes after a quick fiddle around with it. The first game I tried was a cute little number designed for group play but only one player will be able to use the Project Morpheus headset while others have to use controllers.
Within the virtual reality of the game, I was made to sit stationary in a kid’s bedroom. I could interact with the little robot figures around me. This all had a very Toy Story feel to it, which I appreciated.
But not long afterwards, my vision became blurry as the headset screen was covered in condensation. The moisture from my breathing probably made this happen but I’d think this was a problem that Sony would have addressed early on. It’s not like I have dragon nostrils that let out a ton of steam. Sony staff gave the headset a quick wipe down and handed it back to me so I could begin the game.
But it kept happening. It was like playing a video game in a sauna. Nonetheless, the game was still entertaining and really showcased the Morpheus’ potential as an entertainment device for parties and group gatherings.
But when I tried the second game, Battlezone, a reboot of the Atari classic from 1980, my eyes just lost it. I teared up uncontrollably throughout the fast-paced game and ended up just blindly shooting at any vague object that moved. Ever tried opening your eyes in a swimming pool with no googles? That’s what it felt like.
When I pulled off the Morpheus headset, the tears were still streaming down my face. Sony staff must have thought I got emotional shooting virtual tanks.
After I cleaned myself up and clarified that the tears were triggered by the Morpheus headset itself, one of the staff members said this has not happened to anybody else who had tried the demo. But that doesn’t mean this problem won't happen to others who use virtual reality headsets.
The health impacts of 3D became an issue back when films like Avatar kicked off the 3D movies frenzy. Optometrists have advised that some people may suffer from headaches, eye-strain and other symptoms after watching a 3D display because their eyes find it hard to adjust to the images.
These concerns are bound to arise as virtual reality gaming gains traction in the mainstream.
I’m happy to report that the final game I tested on Project Morpheus didn’t make me inadvertently turn on the waterworks. My eyes were completely fine for London Heist which involved a shootout at a bank. In fact, I had a fantastic experience with the game even though I walked into a real wall trying to avoid gunfire.
Here's some of the footage below:
Project Morpheus is slated to be released in June 2016. What do you think about Sony's virtual reality headset? Let us know in the comments section.