Folks who love VR likely remember their first experience like it was yesterday. I can still recall the feeling of awe as I looked over the side of the car in Assetto Corsa with my friend's Oculus Rift DK1 and, a few months later, seeing a blue whale swim overhead with the HTC Vive on my head at IFA 2015.
In his weekly column, Android Central Senior Content Producer Nick Sutrich delves into all things VR, from new hardware to new games, upcoming technologies, and so much more.
But many of my first experiences as an early VR user were incredibly rough and gave me headaches or nausea because they weren't the right things to play first. That's why when you inevitably show off your Meta Quest 3 this year, you must be sure to put your friends and family into an experience made for first-time VR users.
Otherwise, you could inadvertently create a negative feeling toward VR that isn't realistic. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard someone say "VR makes me sick," not realizing that the game they played was the culprit rather than damning the entire medium.
In a nutshell, most VR-induced motion sickness happens because the brain doesn't like the feeling of thinking it's moving in a game while the body isn't moving. If you first have them play a game like Population: One or Breachers — two of the best multiplayer shooters that require virtual smooth movement — you're almost guaranteed to end up with a person who will never want to use a VR headset again.
Instead, use these experiences below to help them understand the magic of VR and develop a love for it.
Get the right fit
Nothing will make your friends or family sick quicker in VR than the wrong IPD or interpupillary distance, which is the space between the lenses. Lenses should match up with the same amount of space between your pupils, usually somewhere in the range of 60 to 68 mm for most adults.
If you're not sure about the IPD of a friend or family, you can take a quick measurement with a ruler's millimeter side while they're looking straight ahead. Just place the end of the ruler over one pupil and look at the distance mark over the other pupil. It literally takes five seconds.
If you or your guests don't want to do this, headsets like the Meta Quest 3 use lenses that are fairly forgiving, so you should be safe with a few preset measurements. Most adults should feel comfortable with a 63 to 65 mm IPD, while most kids should use an IPD under 60 mm.
Use the wheel on the underside of the Quest 3 to adjust the IPD while wearing the headset. The measurements will appear on the screen while wearing the headset.
Before you do anything, make sure you've got the Meta Quest app on your smartphone. Download it for free on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Having the app is important because it not only lets you see what the person wearing the Quest headset sees, but it also lets you launch them into apps and games instantly.
It's a bit like the first scene in The Matrix when they hook Neo up, find a suitable training program, and load it up for him. Thankfully, it's a lot less painful than Keanu's face makes that situation feel. Next, you'll move on to First Steps.
It may sound simple, but using Meta's First Steps app as a starting place is the best way to introduce anyone to VR. It's pre-installed on every Meta Quest headset, but just in case you uninstalled it, here's the Meta Quest store link. It's a free download and is well worth the small install size it takes up on your headset.
First Encounters teaches the very basics of VR movement and interaction — two things your friends and family will need to understand before moving into more complex demos.
Beyond that, I'd love to recommend several oldies but goodies that were built in a time before VR games were as complex as most are these days.
Everyone loves Job Simulator. I've never put someone in this game and not seen them smile, laugh, and have a good time. The age of the person doesn't matter, either. Job Simulator is a game that's fun for everyone, and it's unbelievably easy to understand despite the impressively diverse number of activities available. There's even a "small human" setting at the bottom of the podium when you start that'll height-adjust the world for kids.
Superhot VR is another title that has no virtual movement and needs relatively little explanation. It's also one of the first room-scale games I can recall playing that blew my mind and felt a bit like the "Super Mario 64 of VR" because of its genius. The moment your guests's fists make contact with one of the baddies in the game is the moment they'll fall in love with VR. Guaranteed.
No VR first-timer conversation would be complete without Beat Saber, either. It's the best-selling VR game of all time for a reason, and it's endlessly fun for any skill level or age. Plus, you can get it for cheap right now, thanks to the Black Friday Meta Quest sale.
But if your guest would rather have a more chill experience, a game like Puzzling Places or Cubism is likely a better next step after Job Simulator. Both of these games have the biggest wow factor when you can walk around the puzzle as you might a real puzzle — if you could suspend a real puzzle in mid-air, of course.
Or, if your guests are the dungeon-crawling, treasure-hunting, Indiana Jones type, I've got three more suggestions for you.
Demeo creates a unique VR-centric tabletop experience by combining the best of card games like Pokémon and Magic the Gathering with the lore, movement, and dice-rolling systems of something like Dungeons & Dragons. Bonus points if you have more than one Quest headset in the house, as you can play Demeo in mixed reality as if it were a real board game on one of the tables in your home.
But if they want to move around a bit more, Eye of the Temple is the perfect room-scale experience that'll have them walking around your entire living room to dodge traps and get over gaps without virtual movement. Watch the video above of me playing the game to understand how it works. There's absolutely nothing like it!
Regardless of what you choose, you can't go wrong with any game I've listed for those first-time VR sessions for guests this Holiday season.
Remember that if they do end up getting their own VR headset after you show them the light, they'll have plenty of time to ease into something more intense like Assassin's Creed Nexus VR. Just don't let that be their first and, subsequently, last experience.
This next-generation VR console makes it easy and fun to play VR games any time, anywhere, and with anyone.
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