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.

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