Virtual reality technology is being increasingly embraced by video game developers who wish to design the most interactive experiences for players who really want to get into the game. The VR game titles released thus far span various genres from rhythmic shooters such as Rez to crime adventures such as The London Heist; however, racing VR titles seem to be lagging behind due to the known issue of motion sickness.
According to a recent press release by video gaming giant Sony, the futuristic racing title Wipeout, which is highly esteemed as a timeless classic across all gaming circles, will be available as a VR title in 2018. The announcement took place during a news conference ahead of the PlayStation Experience event; Wipeout fans will be delighted to know that all the racing spacecraft, tracks and electronic dance music of the original games will be ported to VR, but there are some concerns about nausea and motion sickness.
In the mid-1990s, Wipeout started out as a modest racing game for the PC and original PlayStation console featuring anti-gravity racing craft that zipped across the mesmerizing landscapes of the year 2052. One of the strengths of the game was its blistering soundtrack, which included songs from popular artists in the burgeoning EDM scene. The visual effects used to simulate anti-gravity racing included streaks of light, shifting of horizon, sudden turns, and lots of neon; these effects could turn problematic for the upcoming VR versions of Wipeout on the PlayStation 4.
Putting on a VR headset and firing up a racing game is not something that all people will find enjoyable. The problem with racing games is that the visual effects used to simulate speed and acceleration may have unintended consequences when ported to VR. The original Wipeout made some players feel slightly queasy, and that was the intent; however, amplifying that experience on a VR headset could lead to nausea and discomfort.
Thankfully, the developers of Wipeout VR are supported by Sony, and thus it is very likely that certain game design techniques will be applied to avoid motion sickness. First of all, sci-fi racing games do not need a fixed horizon for gamers to focus on; second, track design can be centralized instead of made to move around to simulate changes in speed. Finally, motion sickness can also be prevented in VR racing games by adding visor effects that prompts payers to shift their gaze.