I’ve worked with and played with both Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, and both of them are fantastic and amazing. But I wouldn’t buy them myself. I’ve had both devices for extended periods of time, trying out some of the most fantastic games and making an effort to try new experiences to immerse myself in the future. But that’s just it. Using either headset is a very solitary experience. It’s not the sort of experience I’d recommend to friends. It can be fantastic, but only really for me.
The Oculus Rift is about to gain controls which allow it to expand to new levels of immersion, control, and virtual realities aplenty. It’ll be as good as the HTC Vive, if our demos thus far are indicative of a final product.
It’s as good as virtual reality gets, so far.
But when I have a virtual reality headset on, I’m alone. When I experience games and even social media-type apps in virtual reality, I feel alone.
As an adult, I’m cut off from my family.
When I use a smartphone, I’m not alone. When I’ve got a notebook computer in front of me, I’m no more alone than I am with a smartphone. I can still speak with the people around me when I’m using a phone or a laptop. I can still interact with the people around me when I am, for example, using a smartphone as a controller for a game like Anki Overdrive.
But I’ve got a partner at home. I’m married. I have kids.
I don’t have a whole lot of free time where I’m both alone and not obligated to at least keep my ears peeled for potential toddler trouble-making.
I can’t be an adult and dedicate the time I feel necessary to justify the cost of any high-end virtual reality headset, including HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
If I had Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive when I was a teenager, I’d be in trouble. I wasn’t a particularly outgoing sort of kid, and the tendencies I had to hide myself away and live through a computer screen would have been amplified in a big way.
I’m guessing – I don’t know for certain, but I feel fairly confident – that if I had a VR headset when I was a teenager, I’d have never found it necessary to expand my educational horizons, move out of my parents’ basement, and eventually find a job which occasionally allows me to see and experience fantastic things in real life, like Hawaii and the Johnson Space Center.
Why would I? I could go to those places virtually. I wouldn’t have needed friends in real life, I’d be able to make great friendships in virtual space.
I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone.
Some people will find Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive to be spectacular experiences. These devices do open up doors to fantastic environments and games like I’ve never played before.
But for parents of tiny children and those people prone to locking themselves away from the world whenever possible – stay away.
Meanwhile, there is a VR headset that I recommend everyone get. It’s called Google Cardboard. While Google and other organizations have tended to give them away for free, Google also sells the headset in their Google Store for a cool $15 USD.