When Chelsea Klukas asked her Twitter followers, “what is the *worst* thing about virtual reality?” I couldn’t help but read through all the comments. What started out as a love/hate read about VR turned into an interesting look into the minds of people from all backgrounds about the technology.
Was it the lack of content? Headset design? Social VR expectations? I summed up up the responses to her question to see what everyone thought was the worst thing about virtual reality.
There were 280 comments on her post at the time I counted the responses. I counted only top level replies for my survey results. I also removed “troll” responses. The total came to 184 Tweets.
The 11 Worst Things About Virtual Reality
11. Virtual Silos
It’s clear, virtual reality users want to have an open metaverse. They want to be able to move between apps without needing to exit the game, returning to the Oculus or Steam Home.
Not only that, VR users want one consistent avatar that they can use throughout any experience. I’m not sure this makes total sense as a robot alien probably won’t fit into a realistic time-period experience.
Still, virtual silos created by Facebook, SteamVR, PlayStation, and other headset makers make actually joining your friends in virtual reality a pain or impossible depending if the game is allowed on all platforms.
Other virtual silos include:
- The ability to export digital assets like 3D models created in VR to outside apps.
- Accessibility to VR films only released to film festival circuits
10. Feeling Vulnerable
It’s clear, people feel vulnerable in virtual reality. I didn’t expect to see this come up as much as it did since the Oculus Quest as pass-through cameras so you can see what is around you. However, I totally get it.
Being completely immersed in virtual reality is more than your sight. It’s hearing too. If you live with other people or are in VR in a public space, you don’t know what is going on around you. Someone could take your bag, sneak up on you, or as one unfortunate Twitter user confessed, receiving wedgies.
Not only do people feel physically vulnerable but social awkward as well. How many videos have we seen of people looking ridiculous while in virtual reality? If you’re in VR, you don’t want to be the person being secretly filmed.
9. VR Is Anti-Social
While only coming in at number nine on the list, the anti-social argument around virtual reality sparked the most debate on the thread. Is virtual reality inherently isolating or should it be designed to incorporate other people in the room who are not in VR?
When we pitch that virtual reality can be anything to anybody, we give it an impossible bar to reach. Sometimes you want to disappear into virtual world and forget your reality around you. But often we want to share our experiences with those in the room with us or simply be “alone together”.
It’s not just that VR is “anti-social”. We live in a world of competing devices. The TV is on in the background as we surf our phones, text our friends, and talk to people in the room with us. While some would say VRs affect of forcing us to focus on one thing is a good thing, for the every day consumer this is seen as a barrier.
8. The Cost
You can’t talk VR without addressing the price. Virtual realities main competitors are smart phones and computers. If you’re someone who’s already spent a lot of money on a nice gaming computer, you probably don’t want to spend few hundred for a VR headset to match.
“But Lily!” you say, “you don’t need a computer with Oculus Quest.” True. But as I understand it the more powerful games can’t run on the Quest. And there isn’t enough content to justify even the Quest for average consumers.
Honestly, there’s no arguing with price. Even if the cost has come down or is becoming more affordable, if people aren’t willing to pay, they’re not going to buy.
7. Lack Of Content
VR is in a catch 22 at the moment. It’s too expensive for widespread adoption. Consumers don’t want to spend the money on a device that doesn’t seem to have a lot of content.
Developers don’t want to spend time and effort making something for a device that people aren’t buying. Developers have to get paid after all. So lack of content continues, making headsets not as appealing as they could be. The cycle continues.
What do people want in VR content?
- Deep dive experiences
- AAA games people are used to playing on consoles and PCs
- Replayable games that keep they coming back consistently
- Applications besides games (modding, “every day office stuff”, 360 films)
6. Environmental Limitations
Playing VR comes down to space. In the classroom or at work, you have lots of space to use virtual reality. But in people’s own homes, space can be hard to come by. Even with virtual barrier walls, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped into my desk, accidentally stepped on my dog, or heard the controller go THUNK when my husband raised it into the moving ceiling fan (VR gets hot).
I’m not the only one. Countless others have punched friends, broken light bulbs, and hurt themselves running into furniture while playing VR at home.
5. Set Up Effort
Raise your hand if just the thought of going into VR makes you change your mind. ✋
Depending on your device you have to turn on the computer, run updated, plug the VR and light boxes in. You have to take your pony tail out and glasses off, and adjust the device just right on your head (good luck if someone else used it last).
Virtual reality is really fun to show to friends but it takes a lot of effort to set up and share at parties. Oh, and telling someone to get a Quest because set up is low isn’t the answer.
Barrier to play
- Putting on the headset
- 5 minute for set up time
- USB compatibility issues
- Cable configuration
- Room configuration
4. VR Isn’t Physically Inclusive
When it comes down to it, virtual reality is not for everyone. Chelsea’s thread was full of people commenting that they couldn’t play VR (or play it well) because they need to wear glasses.
Physical Barriers to VR
- Vision impairment
The results are in. VR headsets are gross! Makeup, sweat, shared germs and skin particles – all on your face.
VR headsets are personal. They’re worn on your face. I can’t think of anything else we share on our face or heads like VR headsets. Hats might have lice, glasses are personal, and keeping our skin clean is important.
When I took my VR rig to conferences I hated putting it on to calibrate it after doing lots of demos. Even when you clean the headset, there’s still no answer for the sweaty foam and rubber. Many women at conferences refused to try VR because they didn’t want to mess up their make up or have to take their hair out. We understand.
It’s not just women who are grossed out by VR. Men don’t enjoy the sweaty device on their face either.
2. Headset Design
Headset design has come a long way but for many it still has a way to go. For many, the weight of the headset limits their ability to be in VR for a significant amount of time. Headset weight leads to headaches and neck strain.
Top complaints in headset design
- Form factor (let’s light through)
- Lenses fog up
- Headsets are too heavy
1. Motion Sickness
The hands down worst thing about virtual reality is motion sickness.
Motion sickness and related effects dominated the thread. I think some of this could improve with frame rate, FOV, and improved headset design. Unfortunately, for many who’ve experienced motion sickness once, they never want too again. And that means the end for virtual reality.
The worst thing about virtual reality
- Motion Sickness & Nausea
- Sensory issues
Featured Photo by stephan sorkin on Unsplash
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