By Michael Fontanini / February 3rd, 2017
According to Nintendo President, Tatsumi Kimishima, the video games company is still considering VR support for the Switch gaming system. He told Nikkei that Nintendo will do this if it can solve one big problem with the user experience of VR. There is currently no time frame on when this may happen. This isn’t the first mention of VR and the Switch, though. In June of last year, legendary game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, spoke on the matter. He said they have been researching VR and that they have the “Core Technology”. Miyamoto also explained that Nintendo wants to make something that:
“can be played for long periods, carries value, and is affordable.”
Furthermore, Nintendo actually patented a VR headset in December of last year. It is designed so that the Nintendo Switch tablet can slide into the headset. While talking to Nikkei, Nintendo President, Tatsumi Kimishima, said this about the problem they are trying to solve:
“If we are able to resolve the issues with playing [VR] comfortably for long hours, we will support it in one form or another.”
This is tricky, as VR gaming has several issues that are comfort-related. The weight of the headset is one of them, though this is a minor issue. Nausea from simulated movement and eyestrain are others. Having used a VR headset before, I can testify to this. If the game simulates you moving, this creates a contradiction in the brain. Your body is telling your brain that you are stationary, but your eyes say you are moving. This sensory discrepancy can lead to that nausea.
Since a VR headset covers your entire field of view, your brain thinks the images its seeing are real. This makes the virtual experience more intense than playing on a TV or computer screen. Some developers have noted that large creatures don’t work well in VR. That’s because a creature larger than the player tends to illicit a primal, survival type of fear in the player. That just isn’t so fun. This means that games need to be intentionally designed for VR. For example, a 3rd-person game probably would not work so well in VR (especially when the camera moves, causing nausea). It remains to be seen whether they will add VR support for the Nintendo Switch, but it could be very cool if they do.