Welcome to Beyond Space 18, the Time-Space Experience to unravel your virtual boundaries
There is another world. It is an infinite space, an endless playground, a cornucopia of possibilities.
Virtual Reality has the power to surpass the boundaries of the real world - the reality where action has cause and physical laws are omnipresent. With the possibility to create things that lay behind those boundaries, how is a real human mind, a player, capable of understanding such events? The player must learn to play.
If we take any given game where a virtual character can move freely through the world, chances are, the arrow keys (wasd) determine the next step, the character’s moving direction. The virtual self faces the direction, plays an animation and moves forward. That sounds quite intuitive so far, since that is also what a human would do. But the human isn’t doing it. The human is simply pressing the button wherefore the character moves. The player thinks of moving forward and communicates this thought to the game. If this communication would always be an active thought, there would be no way an average player could successfully play any games where a fast response rate is essential to the gameplay. In order to be able to play such games, naturally the player learns the meaning of specific controls and connects pressing a button to the meant interaction. Now a player knows how to walk, but what about where/why and when? What’s more, a game does usually not only consist of walking but also more complex controls and combinations to provide a more exciting and interactive game. To be able to use those interactions to play the game, the player also needs to understand the situation and how to behave in a given situation. The most intuitive way is continuously obtaining and accessing knowledge about possible game interactions and connecting a game scenario to a real world equivalent.
The Real World or IRL (short for ‘in real life’) is the world that has such consistent mechanics, that a human brain is not only able to function without errors on a daily base but also has high probability of predicting specific future causes, of actions that underlie those mechanics. Given the real world is actually real, we can understand everything that we need to understand in order to survive. In order to play the game of life.
As a result, a game that simulates the real world, and a player that connects the gameplay to this real world, can be played intuitively by a player that knows its controls. The more a player has played the game, the more the player has learned and the more the more intuitively a player can interact with the game. That is the power of games, because with increasing gametime, those layers in between real and virtual world fade and a virtual becomes a ‘self’.
Until now we have talked about perfect simulations, where nothing unreal ever happens. But in reality that is not always the case. Imperfections, errors, glitches and bugs exist, impossible to the real world, which makes a game a game. As a matter of fact there are even so called ‘speed runs’ where a player uses those imperfections in order to finish the game as fast as possible. The speed runner usually perfectionates every move to get the best times by playing the game over and over again. But how can a player understand glitches and use them in an intuitive way while there is no matching real world scenario? The same way games that do not simulate consistent real world physics; Games that might even require the player to become an understanding of something they cannot understand?
At this point it gets interesting because how can we really know if we understand something if there is no real way of proving it. Either way, if the game follows an internal rule, which it does, there is a way to play the game and to even enjoy it.
Existing Games already do it and that’s what I am doing. I am trying to create the game Beyond Space 18 which simulates an intuitive gameplay but also requires the player to use an understanding beyond the real world - an understanding of the virtual world. Furthermore, we raise the question, How are spaces and environments perceived in in virtual reality, and what makes them feel real?.