VR Weekly: Why Aren't There More Motion-Based VR Games?

Virtual reality software and hardware has come a long ways in just the last few years. If you think about it, what was possible with VR even back when Google first unveiled Google Cardboard, the content was exciting and compelling. Sure, not on the scale that it is today, but it was still filled with energy and it got people intrigued simply because there was now a mystery of "where could VR go from here?" That question is one that will likely never stay answered, because the technology is ever evolving, at least for now. For the current crop of headsets and content, though, there is some pretty cool stuff, but most of it requires a controller of some sort for a good portion of the interaction. A new game called Jogger does away with controllers and lets players use motion instead, and it seems like a pretty awesome idea, which leads to the question of why don't more games and content use motion for the interaction? If the creators of Jogger can do it, why can't others.

If you think about VR and the goal of most games and content, it's to make the user feel immersed in whatever it is they're experiencing, and while loads of content does a good job with this, using motion completely for the movement, controls, and interaction of a game or other type of content might be a better way to immerse the user, and at the very least it would make for a fun experience. To get a handle on this, it might be better to see what the motion controls might look like, which you can view in the GIF image below that shows Jogger being played.

The movement for this particular game is simply running in place to make your character sprint across the street. While not all games would be able to use motion for controls or interaction, there are some games which would certainly benefit from the change, and it would dump the user more into the scenario of what's happening. Granted, it would also mean that users would have to be careful when playing such games if they're made for headsets such as the Gear VR (like Jogger), or Daydream View, as these headsets don't have any sort of sensors or cameras that can track the room and objects around you, making it a bit more dangerous if you're not careful. All that aside, the motions wouldn't necessarily have to be movement of the legs like seen here, which allows the player to run across the street in the same fashion as one would do in Frogger with a controller in hand. The motion aspect could be more reliant on gestures of the arms and hands, like waving your hands in a certain motion for a spell, while movement of a character, walking or running, could be handled by a joystick or touchpad on a controller like the one that comes with the DaydreamView.

The HTC Vive could be a great example of a VR headset that could make use of motion for controls in a rather decent capacity, and that's because the headset has the sensors and camera on front that would pair nicely with trying to move around while something is strapped to your face that is essentially blocking your vision. It would have to be considered whether gamers or anyone who is enjoying VR would want games or content with motion-based controls, but even if it was just a niche category, VR itself is still kind of a niche right now.

Another headset which could very easily make use of motion-based controls is Pico's Neo CV headset that was announced at CES. While not available yet for consumers to buy, it also has a camera on the front allowing the user to have more of an idea of what's around them so they can move a little more freely without having to worry too much about running into stuff. What's more is that the headset is completely self-reliant and doesn't require any hardware to power it, as the internal components are all built right into the headset itself. This doesn't necessarily play a factor in games or content with motion-based controls being possible on the platform and hardware, but it's still worth mentioning. Whether or not we will end up seeing more content that uses motion for interaction or if it takes off on a larger scale is unclear, but it seems that developers should be looking more at motion as a possible method of control for the user.

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About the Author

Justin Diaz

Justin has written for Android Headlines since 2012 and currently adopts a Editor role with a specific focus on mobile gaming and game-streaming services. Prior to the move to Android Headlines Justin spent almost eight years working directly within the wireless industry. Contact him at [email protected]