Let’s rewind a little to last week. The day of the Poland vs Ukraine football match to be specific. I had a dental appointment but a combination of the place being about an hour’s walk away and stereotypical Irish weather meant I would be taking a taxi that afternoon. My appointment was at 2pm so I rang the taxi company in good time and before long one pulled up outside of my house. I got in and for about half of the journey a very excited Polish taxi driver regaled me with tales of his home country’s performance in the 2016 Euros. However, during the second part of the journey the conversation took a different direction. He told me that he was going to play some Battlefield 4 for an hour when his shift ended to fill in the time before the match started.
All of a sudden we had some common ground and began talking video games (just in case any of our Pure PlayStation fans are wondering, yes he played on a PS4). He began by telling me about Battlefield 4’s troubled launch and how latency was a huge issue. He went on to say that he was a huge Battlefield fan and that when Hardline launched, he bought it on day one. Then, when he heard that Star Wars: Battlefront was made by Dice, he purchased that, too. However, he felt that Hardline was lacking in a lot of areas and that Battlefront was just another EA attempt at attracting the Call of Duty audience over to one of its games, so in the end he returned to the much improved Battlefield 4 and was looking forward to Battlefield 1 later this year.
Next up for discussion was Uncharted 4 but that was quickly cut off when he remembered something and asked “will you be buying the PS VR?” I told him that I wasn’t really sure because of the price, plus everything I had heard so far was, while positive, either from press releases or from press members who had only tested the headsets in controlled environments. To be honest, I was actually excited by the idea of VR (who isn’t?) but chose to remain heavily skeptical until I got to try it for myself.
That’s when he told me that up until three weeks ago he felt the same but now he would be getting the PS VR headset on launch day. I was a little surprised by the taxi driver’s change of heart and questioned him on it. He told me that three weeks ago he had returned home to Poland for a holiday and that while he was there, he went to a local cinema that had a special Oculus headset event. He didn’t even mention what he saw with the Oculus headset but got super excited as he explained how he was able to look around in the virtual world. He said that he didn’t just move his head but he moved his entire upper body and the headset could track him leaning side to side and turning. Apparently he could even shake his head as quickly as possible and the headset could keep up. Best of all, in his opinion, was that this wasn’t even the final iteration of Oculus which meant that there was still better to come.
Now, I’ve heard people speaking in YouTube videos and on podcasts for a few years on the subject of VR. They’d speak about how they got to use Oculus, PS VR and Vive at events like E3 and PSX. They’d talk about how cool the ‘experiences’ they tried out were, and all of the possibilities that VR could open up in the future. All of this added up to me being intrigued by VR, but not wholly convinced by it; after all, it could just be another video game peripheral charging full-steam towards the bargain bin. That’s all changed now and I count myself among the ranks of the VR believers. I still probably won’t be forking out the cash for a PS VR headset on day one but I do think VR has a place in my future and the future of all gamers.
What led to this change of heart? The taxi driver did. Sure, the things he talked about were the exact same things all these YouTubers and video game critics have been talking about for years but the difference is he was just a normal everyday guy doing his job and he couldn’t contain his excitement on the subject. I got the impression that VR had been on his mind since he first tried it and, despite the price and lack of full-length games, he wanted more and he wanted it as soon as possible. The expansion of VR will probably be led by everyday people telling their friends, and customers, how cool VR is and why they have to try it. It will probably be a slow crawl. It might even take years to get a VR headset in every gamer’s household but I believe that every VR headset purchased will lead to the purchase of two or three more as we show them off to friends and family.
How many other customers has this taxi-driving virtual reality crusader persuaded of the power of VR? The truth is that I have no idea but I have no doubt in my mind that he is still out there roaming the roads of Ireland changing one mind at a time. What a hero.
Make sure you let us know what you think of VR down in the comments. Have you tried VR? Are you a sceptic or have you become a believer? Why?