As the VR market blooms so does the game development. But most importantly the user base is growing into a community who are thinking of more and more clever ways to use the technology.
When I first was introduced to the VR community, I was skeptical. More so in a Rod Serling, “Twilight Zone” dystopian-future – where outside a small utility sized closet future-people call homes, the skies are scorched and torrential. Bandits and raiders run the streets and our only escape from this living hell is to kiss the feet of our A.I. masters just to be stipend another few hours of escape a week on our state issued Headsets.
While all of that is still possible my first interview with my friend, Naiyaru eased my nerves about the current state of VR Gaming quite a bit (interview here) and now my friend, Robbo has continued where she had left off, explaining the benefits of virtual gaming, looking towards the future and keeping the community safe and fun for everyone.
It’s especially important to note that even though I have had a limited interaction with the VR community it is seemingly the least toxic gaming community I have ever dealt with. Maybe because they’re so physically active? After all gaming has not seen a spike in physical activity to this extent since the great summer of Pokémon Go.
But enough banter, this is buffaloretro.com and this is Robbo Mate, an intelligent and excellent VR advocate on Behind The Stream.
**All photos/clips/media belong to Robbo and can be found on his Instagram and YouTube channels in the links at the end of the article**
My Nationality is New Zealander, but we’re also known as kiwis in the global arena!
I don’t currently have a twitch handle associated with my VR content, and whilst it is on my to do list I can’t say it’s near the top of my priorities currently. I much prefer to record, trim, and tweak videos and I’ll be getting my VRA YouTube channel up and running in the not too distant future!
What do you use for your VR sessions?
For my VR sessions I use an Oculus Quest 2 – it’s pretty impressive what it can do on it’s own, and I’ve got 25 square meters in the garage to romp around in when I’m using the Quest 2 on it’s own. When I want to get really serious for some flight simulator action though, I use the Quest 2’s air link feature to connect to my PC. That way I can use my Thrustmaster joystick and pedals, along with my X56 throttle for the latest Microsoft Flight simulator and Digital Combat Simulator to tear around in fast jets and helicopters. Of note, I used to have an HTC Vive Pro but one of the tracking boxes stopped working which made headset tracking impossible when I was checking over my shoulder for the bandit on my six!
When did your VR journey begin?
My VR journey began on my stag do! In 2016 my best man organised a session at a venue called VR Studio in Auckland, one of the major cities in New Zealand. I loved it so much that I went back there again on my own to revisit the experience. I couldn’t stop talking about it! Combining this with a helicopter flight experience that my wife arranged for me in Palmerston North, I started dreaming about building a flight simulator. The result is what I have built to date in the VRA premium VR gaming room (my garage, it’s a work in progress!)
An honorable mention on my VR journey is a venue in Tauranga called “The Aviator Experience” which was a VR DCS experience with 4 flight seats, each with it’s own throttle, joystick and pedals where my Dad, brother, brother in law and I blew each other out of the sky in WWII fighters and F/A – 18 fighter jets. The operator of the Aviator Experience even had a full motion F/A – 18 cockpit, which was exactly the same as the other 4 flight seats, but had the entire cockpit built around it and you could feel every little detail of movement, from turbulence, firing the gun and missiles, and getting hit! Unfortunately that venue is closed now, but it definitely helped shape how I enjoy VR.
Do you have a type of genre of game you prefer to play?
I have 2 genres I prefer to play – flight sim and FPS milsim. I’ve mostly discussed how I scratch my flight sim itch, but for my FPS milsim I play Onward. I find it super realistic in the way you manipulate the firearms, all the way from reloading to aiming and firing. Unfortunately you can only do 4 player coop, but I’m looking into some options on how to use Arma 3 on PC in VR to get that larger scale immersive warfare experience.
I will note that whilst flying and shooting are my 2 main genres, I’m not adverse to a round of mini-golf, beat sabre, table tennis or VR table top gaming!
What type of game do you like to play when not doing virtual reality?
When I’m not in Virtual Reality, my gaming usually involves tactical shooters. I’m almost exclusive to Ghost Recon Wildlands & Breakpoint, but I also love Ace Combat 7 and Halo (which I have recently discovered there are ways to play coop in the most recent Halo installment…)
Why did you decide to start creating VR content?
I actually wanted to help show airsofters another way of training when it’s raining, or when the team can’t get together for practice there’s still other ways to train together online.
Do you have a schedule?
I don’t currently have a schedule, but I do aim to have a theme for each day of the week – even if I don’t manage to get something out on Instagram. The major thing for me is that I have to balance other roles & responsibilities in my life – I’m the father of a 15mth old boy, I’m married to a wife that also needs love & attention, and I work full time & study. My VR shenanigans sometimes have to take a backseat every now and again so that I’m not letting down or neglecting my loved ones here at home, but that’s not to say that I can’t wait to get back into the headset and do some cool stuff!
What was the first game you ever played in VR?
The first game I played in VR was Space Pirate Trainer – that was on my stag do! I thought it was so cool how what I did with my arms was translated so well using the controllers to aim and shoot in the headset display. There was no lag at all, and I felt like I was actually there in the game! Of note, I may have also spent an embarrassing amount of time in audioshield as well…
Do you have other VR partners?
So, the idea of “VR Partners” is interesting. I would say that everyone who follows me on Instagram, and everyone that watches the YouTube videos I’m making is a VR partner of mine. The aim of the game is to spread awareness of what VR can do for people, and everyone that comes to spin a yarn and have a coffee, tea or hot chocolate generally at some point gets the “so do you wanna come play VR now?” from me hahaha! What I will say is that there are a couple of people who’ve been particularly supportive of me and my VR endeavours, and they get a shout out at the end of these awesome interview questions!
What is the most outlandish thing that has happened to you while playing or while you were watching someone stream?
The most outlandish thing that I’ve ever come across while playing VR was a competitive Beat Sabre match. I was in the lobby and you can see your opponents, where we usually wave at each other and vote on the next song to play, but on this particular occasion one of my opponents arms were waving around hectically faster than what I’m sure the human body can possibly move. It was a sight to behold, and I played against them for about 3 rounds – where I beat them on the 3rd round but was so exhausted trying to keep up I decided to finish up while I was happy I had a win on the scoreboard hahaha! Thinking back on it now, I believe that it may have been the first time I had encountered some form of cheating software in VR…
What do you want to see in the VR community moving forward?
I think the VR community is a great place to be, there are so many people sharing so many different points of view and experiences, from simple “How to be better at Beat Sabre” guides, to updates on VR technology development and ethics discussions. Moving forward, I want the VR community to stay on this path, with the intent of sharing how great the VR experience is, to include as many people in the good times to be had in the headset, and to do everything we can to keep VR a safe place to be a part of.
What makes the experience unique?
The unique thing about the VR experience is the immersion. From the moment you put the headset on and get an app running, it is uncanny how everything around you melts away as your eyesight, hearing, and body position are all tuning into the virtual environment the headset creates around you. If undisturbed, you literally feel like you are there in the game, whether slicing blocks in half, putting a mini-golf ball, or flying faster than the speed of sound in a fighter jet. Short of some very expensive, single purpose built dome projector screen environments, I have never seen anything that gives a similar experience (but I watch the future eagerly to see if full dive technology emerges in my lifetime!)
What would you tell a brand new player or wish that someone told you when you were first starting out?
When I’m entertaining a new guest in the VRA premium VR gaming room, I tell them to take it slow, figure out their limits, and just let their mind adjust to the disconnect between the body and the mind. The mind uses the visual stimuli of the eyes to create a idea of things like gravity, and when what the eyes tell a different story to what the body is telling, the mind can get a little upset and cause a sensation of nausea. If you take it slow, you build up a resistance or a tolerance to this sensation, and you can start doing all sorts of crazy stomach flipping activities in VR – but if you don’t take it slow and “push through” you can actually make it worse and become even more susceptible to “VR sickness”
What is rewarding about virtual reality?
The rewards of VR are that you can just about go anywhere and do anything. The limit of VR is the creativity of the user, as there is just about an app for every need, and more being developed as the tech used in VR progresses. You can use it for fitness training, target shooting, socialising, chilling out and relaxing. If you want intensity or relaxation, there is something in the headset for you – and it’s not just limited to able bodied people either – there are apps that support people with disabilities so that they can have a great experience also.
Parting words/ shout outs?
My parting words Bill are thanks for the time and effort you have put into the questions for this interview, and for the positivity that you spread on social media mate. It’s awesome to see that people care about the perspectives of others, and that there is a willingness to build relationships to support each other.
I’d like also to shout out to the following awesome people!
Please follow Robbo on the following accounts for more awesome VR photography and VR gaming clips!
Virtual Reality Action on Instagram
If you are a streamer and would like to interviewed about your channel and your experiences online please get ahold of me either through here or social media!