Middle-Aged Gamer: Real, Single Player Gaming is Back … and it is called Virtual Reality

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This is Space Pirate Trainer — and you feel like a god when you play it

Thanks to the meteoric rise of free gaming (which is funded by loot crates that require multiplayer gaming to provide an audience for dances and costumes) — we the middle-aged gamer are quickly being marginalized.

Single player experiences are on the decline — couch multiplayer (local multi) games are leaving the building too. Nintendo is doing their best to keep the traditional gaming market alive — but I honestly don’t like the way things are headed overall.

This Christmas restored just a bit of faith in gaming humanity. I saw a segment of gaming that heralds back to my own style of play — despite the fact that it is on the cutting edge of technology.

Virtual Reality.

Yes, it is expensive to get into. Yes, you have to have the right hardware and lay out a lot of cash for the hardware — an Oculus Rift Touch system is $400 which is above what it costs to get a top of the line game console. Yes, you’ll need a near $1000 PC in order to use it.

Let’s pretend you have the PC and you’re a middle-aged gamer like me that has some disposable income. After all, this article is about gaming.

Among the top virtual reality games at the moment are Space Pirate Trainer, Beat Saber, Robo Recall, Dead and Buried, Arizona Sunshine, Fallout 4 VR, Gorn, Moss, Skyrim and SuperHot VR. Something they all share in common — most are single player experiences (some may have some sort of sideloaded multiplayer mode; Dead and Buried horde mode with a friend does kinda rock!).

Something else they share? They aren’t just fun as HELL to play; they are fun to WATCH people play. Not because people look like goofballs playing these games (well … sometimes) … but because it is actually FUN to be part of something like this; even if you aren’t the one wearing the headset.

Remember what we used to call that? A video game arcade. You would huddle around game cabinets — watching and cheering on the player while waiting for your own turn.

These games are solo experiences that benefit from an audience but do not require it (after all, you’re immersed in the experience). But this is a collaborative experience with some friendly competition. Selling dances, gestures, stickers and nonsense in these games make zero sense.

The mobile market monetization doesn’t rule this roost.

Need more incentive?

What if I told you that the games are dirt cheap? At least compared to AAA console game standards. Top notch titles like Robo Recall are only $30 (but it is like Donkey Kong on the Colecovision; a pack in for the Oculus Touch that happens to be one of the greatest games on the system). System killer app Beat Saber is $20. Superhot VR? $25. Space Pirate Trainer (easily one of the best action games I’ve played on the Rift) is $15 — and was on sale for $9 this Christmas. Even “premium” games like Raw Data and Lone Echo are $40 — a good $20 cheaper than a AAA console game.

By the way — ALL of these titles were on sale for up to 40% off this holiday season.

Great prices, solo experiences, couch co-op and true spectator fun? It’s almost too good to be true.

This isn’t the last article on virtual reality you’ll see from me. My Best Of list is up next!

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I write, blog, record and review anything that interests me — including humanity, parenting, gizmos & gadgets, video games and media.

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