As a life-long gamer, I love it when new videogame-related technology arrives. And when it’s tech that looks like the virtual reality headsets of the future that were teased during my 1980s childhood, I just about lose my head out of excitement.
Sony’s newest “Personal 3D Viewer” head-mounted display, however, almost makes me wish I didn’t have a head to lose. Or a forehead, at least…
If devices like Sony’s new headset become an industry standard, we can kiss goodbye to the days of pretending to work/study/read quietly in our bedrooms and lounges while we are, in fact, stealthily playing a bit of Street Fighter 4. When mum and dad came home from their shopping trip, up until now all it took was the flick of a switch and the concealment of a controller to erase all evidence of having played games. But imagine explaining the presence of this fine, oval-ended imprint on your forehead to mum and dad.
“Games? No, no, I was reading. Oh, this mark? I was… attacked… by a leech. No? Um… poorly-applied sunscreen?”
Made from sleek black and white plastic, the headset’s supporting headband slips easily over the back of the head, in theory directing most of the weight towards the that area. In reality, however, much of the unit’s weight- however slight, and definitely less than preceding models’- is borne by the bridge of the user’s nose, not unlike a pair of enormous glasses, and forehead, upon which a small padded strip of black plastic gently presses.
Of course, when it comes to anything videogame-related, or screen-related for that matter, it’s important to take regular breaks and give your eyes a rest to avoid fatigue. Marks like that in the photo above can be avoided simply by reducing one’s play time to an hour or so per session, surely? Alas, no. This is the result of wearing the head-set for a mere ten minutes.
It’s not painful to wear in the slightest, and the visual effect it produces is actually pretty great, since having the action so close to your eyes is incredibly immersive, yet the unit allows natural light in since the top and bottom of the unit are left open, avoiding any claustrophobic feelings or making it impractical or unsafe to wear at home.
But Sony are going to have a tough job marketing their new headset to the general public. Skipping over the fact that headsets of this kind, no matter how stylish and slim, are undeniably hard to look good wearing, there are very few people who would be willing to trade just a few minutes of (admittedly fantastically involved) gaming for a two-and-a-half-inch red mark right in the middle of their forehead that lasts about the same length of time as their play session. On top of this, the sensation of moving one’s head and having the entire screen tilt with it certainly takes some getting used to…
I’ll leave you with a few snaps of the headset’s victims. Proud bearers, if you will, of the stamp that says “I tried Sony’s new headset at the Tokyo Game Show!”
Thanks to my fellow TGS attendees for allowing me to use these photos of them looking like utter twonks…