First Impressions Of The HTC Vive And Virtual Reality

First Impressions Of The HTC Vive And Virtual Reality

Does it live up to the hype?

I’ve been waiting a long time for the HTC Vive. From the moment it appeared on the Steam store webpage, I dreamt about unboxing one of my very own. I watched countless videos of lucky testers trying out the DK2 prototypes. I lapped up every taste of virtual reality I could get from demos in Microsoft and Best Buy stores. As of three days ago, I finally have one. My hype level was in outer space, and the Vive still blew me away. No amount of gameplay videos can prepare you for what it’s like. Virtual reality (VR) is indescribably cool.

Setting up the Vive is a bit less euphoric than using it. After putting in some elbow grease to clear the absolute minimum area required for room-scale play, I had to figure out where to mount the two base stations that track the Vive HMD (head-mounted display) and two controllers. I drilled one into a wooden support in one corner of the room. The other is currently attached to the remains of a makeshift bike rack wedged between the floor and ceiling in the other corner.

With the base stations set up and powered and my play area cleared, I donned the HMD and was immediately blown away by what is essentially a glorified main menu. The SteamVR Home application is a virtual house with a virtual balcony overlooking some virtual mountains. A wall in the house displays and launches the VR games in your library. I spent quite some time just looking around in awe and tossing around the simple objects scattered around the room. I made each of my family members put on the HMD just to look out at the mountains.

VR tricks your brain into thinking you’re there, so it takes some time to get used to navigating the room-scale play area without hitting anything. I had heard many horror stories of broken monitors, ceiling lights and noses, so I made sure to respect the boundary visualizations displayed in-game. It’s disorienting at first, but the longer I played the better I got at navigating within the Vive while still keeping track of my real-world location.

Another thing that takes some getting used to is locomotion. Moving within the virtual world is referred to as locomotion and different games handle it differently. In some games, you move by pointing with the controller and teleporting. Other games use the trackpad to move the player in the direction you’re pushing, much like a conventional console game. Some games make you move your arms in a running motion to move. My favorite so far is teleportation, solely because it is the only one that doesn’t make me feel dizzy and sick. Smoothly moving the character in-game while not moving in real-life is incredibly disorienting. While more experience with those locomotion modes is known to reduce adverse reactions, I’ll be sticking with teleportation for now.

The major downsides of the Vive are the resolution of the screen and god rays. The HTC Vive has a screen resolution of 2160 x 1200 pixels (1080 x 1200 pixels per eye). This is low enough to clearly see individual pixels in-game, and makes seeing faraway objects nearly impossible. God rays are light artifacts that appear when viewing the screen through the Vive’s round lenses. They are most apparent when looking at bright objects or text. Cleaning the lenses regularly with the included cloth helps, but doesn’t remove them entirely.

Despite these negatives, watching Vive gameplay doesn’t compare to being in the HMD. Sure, you won’t see god rays in a video and the resolution will be better, but after a few minutes of play, my brain stopped registering the downsides. I was too busy having fun and being completely, utterly immersed. Taking off the HMD after a long play session is a surreal experience. You’re telling me, after all that, I was in my living room the whole time?

Even my mom, who is generally skeptical of my expensive taste in video games, tried out the Vive. All she did was look around in Google Earth, but even that is a breathtaking experience in VR. She crouched down to look at our house, and reached out to try to touch virtual mountains. Some choice words were uttered when she found herself on the edge of a cliff.

I could write an article about all the fun games and breathtaking experiences the Vive has to offer. But the truth is, any expectations you have for the Vive are probably selling it short. Go out and try it—you won’t regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Charlie Jirik

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Social Media Is Causing Problems With Our Social Skills

When people care more about followers than about each other, something is wrong…

Do you care whatever you do?
Do you care wherever you go?
Do you care whomever you meet?

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr. There are countless apps, sites, and programs which let you enter the realm of social media. And I know, social media is important, I get it.

Without social media, this article wouldn’t find its readers. Without social media, my family on the other side of the globe wouldn’t be able to follow my stories on my blog. Without social media, people couldn’t get in touch with each other so fast and easy. I’m not denying any of it. But tell me, does social media make us more social? How is it possible that we live in a lonely world although we have the Internet to connect us with the whole world?

Pardon me if I sound harsh, but don’t you have the impression that in today’s society people care more about followers than about people?

Don’t you, too, realise that young adults care more about increasing their likes on Instagram than about pushing themselves to better results in school and university? Don’t you think that we constantly care more about our phones in the hands than about the guy we’re sitting next to in class, or the friend with whom we travel, or the family with whom we dine?

Maybe you think I’m exaggerating, but I have the impression that people do not care. We do not care. I do not care enough. I don’t care enough about what I say without thinking. About whom I hurt. About how to make someone else’s life a little easier. Sometimes I do not even care enough about myself.

But I should care. You should care. We should care.

About people. About words. About history. You should care about that kid you sit next to in French class. And about your Mum who worries about you. And about your teachers who are trying their best to provide you with education. We should care about all the things that seem tiring and not fun. About our responsibility as citizens, partners, children. About our world and about ourselves. For we are as much part of this society as everyone else is.

Living in a society means to care for each other, rely on each other, trust each other. It’s impossible to create those feelings and foster them without undivided attention to your neighbour and real-life socialising.

Don’t throw your phone away. Don’t delete your Facebook account. (You wouldn’t do it anyways, would you? :D) But switch them off from time to time. You care for the world surrounding you when you look up from your screen while traveling. You care for your friends and family when you put your phone away while eating in a restaurant. And finally, you care about your society when you learn how to use your device to make a difference in the world. It's not about the followers you earn. Let it be about the content you put out there and about the one you take in. Care!

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Social Media Gets A Bad Rep For Not Being Genuine, But It's All About What You Make It

Social media can be a beautiful platform to relate and inspire and share real life.

So many of us girls are convinced social media is fake. We see fake tans, airbrushed skin, insane edits and the list goes on. People silently judge each other from behind their screens. Our time becomes consumed in insecurities, judging, and attempting to gain approval by the social media world.

But what if we made social media genuine? What if we admired beauty beyond the selfie? What if we talked like we do with our friends, express our opinions, hobbies, doubts, and failures just as much as we share our "perfect" days and accomplishments. What if we danced cause we like to dance? What if we went and met the people we've spent years getting to know and talking with over a screen?

Is that even possible?

Yes. I say yes. We can make social media genuine. We can dance and talk and share authenticity and realness and rawness. We can post unedited selfies and home videos of our regular daily lives. But do we want to? Do we want to show the world who we really are? Are we proud of who we are and what we stand for? Is our confidence found in the likes or is it found in the belief that we're truly sons and daughters of Jesus Christ?

It's a personal choice and a conscious choice. But in my opinion - social media can be a beautiful platform to relate and inspire and share REAL. LIFE. If you let it be that of course. And that's exactly what I tend on doing.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Aaron

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