Students had fun stepping into virtual worlds at UCI’s first VRcade event, hosted by the Virtual Reality Development Club (VRDC) in collaboration with UCI Esports. VRDC president Edward Lok says the event, held on April 23 at the Esports Arena, was a “great success,” with approximately 50 people attending throughout the night. “Many students got the chance to try VR for the first time and were completely blown away by it.”
Some of the games the students could sample were Arizona Sunshine, Mecha Mayhem, Raw Data, Sprint Vector and SuperHot VR. Four headsets were available — three with Oculus Rift and one with HTC Vive — so students had ample time to play. “Everyone had a blast,” says Lok.
Yet the event wasn’t held merely for fun and games. VRDC aims to foster a VR development community here at UCI, encouraging students to explore potential careers in the VR industry, an industry that some predict will reach $45 billion in revenue by 2025.
“To develop successful VR products,” explains Lok, “we must understand gaming trends, identify what attracts players and explore methodologies for things like locomotion in VR, so we’re doing a lot more than playing games for fun.” He points out that Mecha Mayhem is still in development, so students were able to offer feedback and observe first-hand some of the challenges of the indie game development process. With this first VRcade being a success, Lok adds, “we hope to have more events like this in the future.”
— Shani Murray