As a low vision gamer, I didn’t know quite what to expect when I purchased Sony’s PSVR (PlayStation VR).
The headset had knocked down one of two significant barriers for me to jump into the VR scene — cost. But I still didn’t know what the experience would be like for me, a legally blind person. With games like Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Tetris Effect popping up on people’s Game of the Year lists, I didn’t want to feel left out. I needed to see for myself what the hype was all about and I already owned Tetris Effect. When Sony released a very tempting and reasonably priced bundle, which included Astro Bot and Moss, I decided to make the investment.
I haven’t regretted purchasing the headset for even a second! Even before playing a game, I had a good feeling. The industrial design of the device made sense. After all, it’s designed to be used while the user’s vision was impaired. The indented sleep/wake button, as well as the protruding volume buttons on the bottom of the headset were easy to find by touch when wearing the headset. So far so good!
“I haven’t regretted purchasing the headset for even a second!”
When I fired up the PSVR for the first time I was shocked at just how easily readable the text was on the VR display after some adjusting for proper focus, which I was fearing would be the first hurdle in using the headset. I couldn’t stop smiling when it asked me how big I wanted the display to be for non VR images. I choose the large setting and it made me feel like I was sitting in front of the biggest screen I had ever seen. I felt like I had my own private movie screen to play my 2D games with! There was some blurring along the edges but I believe that is more a limit of the first generation PSVR and would be less of an issue in future iterations. The real test though would come with VR games. It occurred to me that a lot of VR relied on stereoscopic depth to convey the illusion of a virtual world and my depth perception in the real world is terrible! As Astro Bot Rescue Mission loaded, this thought raced through my mind. But, somehow, as the cute little Astro Bot zoomed around my head in VR, I was able to discern depth and dimension. My smile got even bigger.
“I felt like I had my own private movie screen to play my 2D games with!”
Once the first stage of Astro Bot started, I realized that VR platformer camera controls sort of don’t exist because YOU are the camera. If I wanted to get a better look at a virtual object in the game, all I had to do was walk up to it. This became even more apparent in Moss, which has the player control and observe the cute little mouse protagonist as if you were in the world with her. It’s like your looking at a diorama and you have to help the mouse traverse this little world which you can get very close to. At one point, I caught myself getting off my couch and onto my knees in the middle of my living room just to get a better look a small hallway my mouse was running through. Just a second ago, what was a small mouse scurrying about a big castle, was now face to face with me in this cramped passageway!
After exploring these VR worlds, I loaded up Red Dead Redemption 2, a game infamous for its tiny on-screen prompts and text. I loved playing RDR2 on my 50 inch TV, but that text was very frustrating and really took me out of the game when I would have to get up and walk over to the top right of the screen to read the in-game instructions. On the giant Move theater-sized screen inside the PSVR however, I was able to read the same prompts with much more ease. Several hours later, I had my answer: the PSVR was not only a good purchase, it made my backlog of 2D games much more accessible. I had to stop myself from crying for joy inside the headset, I was fogging up the glass in front of my eyes.
I realize that not everyone will have the same experience I did with PSVR. Visual disabilities vary from person to person but for someone like me who is legally blind, it made me feel welcome at the VR party!