The Latest in Virtual Worlds, Gaming and Otherwise

Life isn’t all fun and games (although whoever made up that rule has some explaining to do), but the nitty gritty details tend to direct what kind of fun, and what kind of games, you can get your hands on. Today, we have the latest on this end, including a new gaming controller that coincides with the very much anticipated Oculus Rift as well as an incredibly talented filmmaker who’s turning real-life news events into a virtual reality landmine.

A Controller to Go Along With Oculus Rift?

Over the last year, the Oculus Rift has made quite a few waves in the world of virtual worlds: the first product that promises a truly immersive experience in virtual reality.

However, the Oculus Rift only really focuses on how you view the game, not necessarily on how you play it. After all, what good is an awesome headset if you’re playing the game with a clunky controller or joystick?

Enter the STEM System, created by Sixense. A new take on a gaming controller, this device features two wand-like controllers, each of which is outfitted with a handful of buttons and a single analog stick, as well as a small box that mounts to the Oculus Rift headset in order to track your motions.

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While this initially seems a bit, well, clunky, this is just the prototype – the true genius is in the seamless melding of a hand held controller that provides exceptional precision all while still quickly feeling intuitive.

So how is this STEM System doing on the reception side? Well, they put up a Kickstarter in September and surpassed their $250,000 funding goal in less than 24 hours.

Between this, the Oculus itself and the Virtuix (the treadmill), this triad is going to be making waves in virtual reality, and it’s only the beginning!

Second Life Updates

On the heels of its 10th anniversary, Second Life spent the summer giving its game a complete overhaul, including improved graphics and chat systems as well as new features. They integrated the game with Facebook (why did this take so long?), and now users can snap screenshots in-game and share it with friends through the social networking site. For those new to this long-running virtual world, the initial setup and welcome experience has been improved as well, and for the shoppers, it’s now easier than ever to make in-game purchases.

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Perhaps the most interesting part? In the trailer showcasing the updates, the last shot is of a man wearing a virtual reality headset while playing Second Life. Could this be in-line with the Oculus Rift or something else? We can’t wait to find out!

Virtual Reality News?

Do you ever watch the news? Or at least glance at it while out at dinner or passing through the living room on your way to do something infinitely more interesting? Well, it looks like Google and cohorts are looking for a way to make news available in a virtual world.

Talk about providing an incentive to stay up to date with current events!

A former Newsweek reporter, Nonny de la Pena, is building virtual worlds to re-create real life news events. Dubbed the Unity gaming engine, these 3-D reenactments utilize stunning graphics, real-life evidence and direct audio and video sources to provide the closest approximation to witnessing a crime or event that we’ve ever seen. After making waves with her virtual reality film Hunger in L.A. in 2012, Nonny caught the attention of none other than Google itself, and they, along with Tribeca and the Associated Press, are all providing Nonny with a hefty fund in which to further expand her virtual reality news collection.

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The project currently in the spotlight is titled Use of Force Protocol, and recreates the death of a Mexican migrant who was brutally beaten and attacked by Border Patrol officers. The film itself is only five minutes, yet it manages to do more in that limited time than an entire two hour special on the incident could ever do: it places you, the watcher, directly there as the events unfold.

Just as virtual reality is currently somewhat limited by technology, we’re relatively sure that you aren’t going to be seeing all news go the route of an immersive film experience any time in the next year. However, when you add this technology to the creativity of Nonny and pair this with the previous devices already discussed today and in the past (the new controllers, the virtual reality headsets, Google Glass and the like) it’s easy to see the direction that this will eventually take.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Paulina Masson
Author: Paulina Masson View all posts by
Paulina has been playing video games since she was 11. Her long time dream to work in the gaming industry came true when she joined EA Games in 2011. After a few years, she created web-portal Online Games Kingdom and the rest is, as they say, history.

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