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Oculus' Anna Sweet on why VR is still in its "Pong Stage"

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Oculus' Anna Sweet on why VR is still in its
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Kicking off Develop:Brighton 2016, Anna Sweet, Head of Developer Strategy at Oculus, gave the keynote speech on the Evolve track regarding the evolution of genres.

"We're at the Pong stage of VR's history", said Sweet, following a brief history of games across all platforms, which start fairly basic and begin to evolve over the years.

Though now that there is already an established collection of genres, VR's "Pong stage" is slightly more advanced than Pong itself.

The diorama effect

Sweet pointed to Lucky's Tale, a platformer that feels immediately familiar to players, but involves new mechanics available only in VR, such as physically moving to look at objects.

Sweet also talked about the "diorama effect", a term used to describe the feeling of nostalgia players feel when starting a game, and encouraged developers to make games that invoked this nostalgia while bringing about new experiences.


But according to Sweet, "storytelling is the hard part", given that developers now need to take into consideration that players might be looking away from key points of narrative while exploring the VR space.

This type of storytelling goes beyond just games, however.

Oculus has seen talk shows spring up in VR, allowing talk show hosts to interview developers inside their own games, for example.

Evolving definitions

The tricky thing of all this is how to describe the genres that are springing up all the time.

For example, Sweet spoke about Job Simulator, a game that has become synonymous with VR but is difficult to classify given its novelty, to the point that a press release was eventually sent out listing the genre as "Job Simulator".

And because VR opens up new experiences beyond just games, the ability to define genres will become even more difficult, as it won't just be games that are being made within VR.