January 2, 2014
Harlem Recreated In Virtual Reality
For time periods like The Crusades and The Dark Ages, our understanding of the world is shrouded in temporal memory, sealed off from our eyes. We’ll never truly know what it was like to see a T-Rex tower over other smaller reptiles, or to see an anaconda the size of an apartment complex swallow an entire whale. But thanks to virtual reality, education may have the ability to give us a peak into the world beyond our memory.
According to Wired, this is what scientists at the University of Arizona have done. Using virtual reality, they believe that they’ve crafted the perfect learning experience for history majors who want see the sights of the past.
Assistant professor of African American Studies Bryan Carter heads the project with a swift imagination and even more ambition. “This virtual setting allows for students to see the inspirations behind the literature or works of art they are studying, which will be invaluable to engaging this generation,” stated Carter. He went on to describe the use of the program’s innovative visuals to engage learners in the recreation of 1920s Harlem.
Video games and technology go together like peas in a pod, and that connection is evident when we see gamers using their video game lessons in everyday life. Sometimes these lessons are full-on brain tests made by independent developers in app stores, and other times they can be entire historical sagas that we can get lost in for hours and hours on end. This doesn’t look to be anything likes your typical Assassin’s Creed clone, as the game really is all about being in 1920s Harlem.
Why virtual reality though? What could be so difficult about snapping the experience to the UI of a regular controller experience?
Well, what I’ve noticed about control input for simulation games is that comfort is as important to the gamer as the time of day that they’re playing the game. If the company is going the route of virtual reality, then the simulation will need to focus a lot more on environmental constraint, such as not being able to drive too fast on a street or to hurt pedestrians.
Apart from that, what about the input device for said game? Playing Battlefield 4 or Warframe with a keyboard and mouse is splendid, but how must that feel when you’re driving your Ford vehicle down Harlem looking for a jazz club to enjoy with your wife?
Those kinds of experiences are best made for your mind’s perceived movement, which is at its strongest when you’re controlling it with your mind.