Adopting a cat has ruined the Quest 2 for me
Space Sense wasn't built to handle zoomie kitties
Using the Quest 2 while living in a one-bedroom apartment is tricky enough. When California rentals charge a few bucks per square foot and a house costs north of a million, you'll have a hard time finding the recommended 6.5' x 6.5' space that most roomscale games require.
Up until a few months ago, my partner and I made it work. I gravitated towards seated experiences like I Expect You to Die 2 or joystick-controlled games like Resident Evil 4 VR that let me largely stand in one spot. It ensured she could walk around me without catching a zombie-knifing or Beat Sabering controller to the face, and I didn't have to worry about moving the furniture every time I played.
I could never properly "immerse" myself, not without the ability to move about freely. But I still enjoyed my time with my Quest 2 library regardless, and hoped that things would change once we saved up enough to buy a two-bedroom place.
Then we adopted our first cat, a four-year-old rescue we named Blue, from Cat Town in Oakland. He appeared to be a chill, quiet cat, perfect for first-time pet owners who didn't have time to train a kitten. Little did we know he would morph into a sprinting, playtime-hungry cat with an endless hunger for chin-scritches.
We've fully adjusted to the new freeloader in our home, and he has adapted to us. Blue has learned that he only gets food when Alexa announces it from our Echo Show 8. I have him chasing after string toys during Google Meet meetings or whenever I'm not typing away. He likes watching us play video games.
But Blue will not let me play my Quest 2 anymore, full stop.
Like most cats, he loves to rub up against our legs and trusts us to get out of his way or not kick him if he's walking by. And while I've tried to sneak in VR sessions while Blue is napping, any active games will inevitably wake him up with the vibrations, prompting him to investigate and get underfoot.
I switched to seated VR so that I wouldn't kick him by accident. But as any VR fan will tell you, there's nothing more startling than an unexpected physical touch while in-headset. And Blue will no sooner see me wearing the Quest 2 than immediately come to mark my legs or hop on the couch and climb on my lap to sniff my face.
We've started button-training our cat to understand words like "play" and "all done," but there's no button for "dad is wearing a magical helmet and can't see you, leave him alone for an hour." Even if there were, he's a cat — he's not going to agree to that!
The obvious solution should be Space Sense, the Experimental setting that automatically enables passthrough and shows people, objects, or pets that appear within your Guardian boundary. I had disabled it because I tended to get distracting false positives, but I gave it a shot to try and salvage my VR lifestyle.
I wasn't surprised that it didn't really solve anything. For starters, the Quest 2 cameras don't seem to pick up Blue when he's moseying at a slow pace, likely because he's too small and close to the ground. Even if it does, I don't always see him if he's not approaching from the front.
Plus, if he's in a zoomie mood, neither Space Sense nor I have the response time to react to him before he's already through the Guardian zone or knocking into my foot.
So for most of 2022, I've largely left most of the best Quest 2 games I've accumulated sitting on the virtual shelf. I find that most Quest 2 games are meant for roomscale or standing play, and seated play just doesn't cut it with the downgraded mobile graphics.
Many of my colleagues live in areas where half my monthly rent can get you a whole suite of rooms, so I know this isn't a universal problem. And hopefully, I'll be able to upgrade our home soon and have a Blue-free space to dive back into VR. Or perhaps the wired, 4K PS VR2 headset will make seated VR gameplay more enjoyable for me.
But I do wonder how many other people have tried to jump on the VR bandwagon, only for cats and dogs to thwart them.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.