Video Games In VR Don't Have To Be First-Person

"We basically looked at the Oculus guidelines and ignored every single one of them."

Well then.

I'm at the Marble Mountain stand at PAX Australia. I've been grabbed by a man named Shannon Pickles. He wants to show me his video game.

Shannon Pickles' video game is like Marble Madness, only it's on a mountain so it's called Marble Mountain. This makes sense to me.

What doesn't make sense: he's now handing me an Oculus Rift, he's putting it on my head. I stop for a second.

"Wait... this is an Oculus Rift game?"

My internal dialogue at this precise moment: VR is about 'immersion'. Therefore VR is about video games in the first person. VR is about being INSIDE THE SPACE. VR is not about... video games where you control a goddamn marble roaming around mountains and shit.

This makes no sense.

But then, all of a sudden, it makes perfect sense.

I wear the headset. Holy shit. Almost instantly -- a realisation. It absolutely does not matter than I am playing an Oculus Rift game that is not in the first-person. Almost immediately, it does not matter.

I move my head around. From a visual perspective I explore the map. Then I move the marble. On a strange level I'm exploring in two separate dimensions. I'm exploring as myself, as a human being transported into this new space. But I'm also exploring as a goddamn marble in a video game sense.

And that's okay. Actually, it's more than okay. It's awesome.

Suddenly it all clicked. Virtual Reality doesn't have to be about one single thing. It doesn't have to be about being inside a character, inside a world. Anything will work in VR. Just about anything. A 2D platformer will work in VR.

Well, it might. It could.

But this game: there's no doubt. This modernised version of Marble Madness absolutely works in VR. It's fantastic. It's well balanced, it controls well, the ability to move my head and explore where I'm about to go is invaluable. Best of all -- absolutely no motion sickness. At all.

Purely as a result of being playable in Oculus Rift, this incredibly traditional video game experience has been reinvented into something... disruptive, weird and valuable.

Marble Mountain. Honestly. I might have walked past a game like that a hundred times at a show like PAX Australia. A show littered with interesting strange video games, games your eyes can't help but be drawn to.

But VR changes everything. Even a deceptively traditional video game experience like Marble Mountain.


    I can't wait for the version of Assassin's Creed where you are god, looking down at a city full of people as small as ants, and at the same time are responsible for guiding your assassin through it.

      Like Black and White? Lol.

      My dream of playing an VR MMO is becoming a reality. Always wanted to play a game like .Hack.

    Honestly I thought this was what VR games were going to be about and that FPS games would be the equivalent of the 2d platformer. (Prolific only because they're the cheapest and easiest to make) Third person games have always struggled with camera issues so being able to release that control from a stick creates a huge justification for implementing VR controls. That being said though, VR still feels like it's just an immersion accessory like flight sticks and steering wheels. Watching that video I'd never guess it was a VR title.

    But Mark the video is literally just some kind of platformer game that we can play without VR. What makes it so special on the VR that you were convinced by it? I read your article before viewing the video expecting something that could convince me but I still feel nothing.

      Possibly something about how it fills your world? Immersion isn't just feeling like you're there as much as that what you're seeing is the world.

      That is the problem, once you experience it in VR, it all makes sense, watching it on a video... it doesn't.
      It is going to be a critical problem with VR, you strap on the headset, even for tabletop-style gaming and immediately think, oh man, this is perfect.

    I think there is a solid market for VR table-top and God style gaming. Leaning in to 'zoom', being able to look across a broad landscape, VR and AR really work so well for this type of thing, and are perfect for a seated experience.

    One of the best games on Gear VR is Herobound, basically a Zelda style action/adventure game, it looks great and plays amazing.

    I honestly think games like this really show off what VR is capable of without necessarily demanding full immersion, which usually gets ruined the second you realize you're still just holding a controller.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now