Game Selection, Part 3: Arcade-ready

Part 1 and Part 2 of our game selection posts discussed how VR games can help you access a world beyond reality and then can fully immerse you into that world. This part is a bit more practical: how we decide if a game is arcade-ready.

Will it make anyone sick?

 Teleporting is the most reliable movement option for players to avoid VR sickness. It's usually indicated by a marker like this one in The Lab.

Teleporting is the most reliable movement option for players to avoid VR sickness. It's usually indicated by a marker like this one in The Lab.

First, we have multiple staff members test each new possibility to ensure that it’s unlikely to cause VR sickness (which is similar to simulation or motion sickness). Though some players are more prone to it than others, we do watch out for specific characteristics. In particular, movement within a virtual space can cause sickness when implemented as “walking,” an option where you press a button and the world slides by. We won’t feature a game in our arcade that only has this option available, and we watch out for other possible causes of VR sickness as well.

Easy to set up & learn

For us to select a game, it doesn’t need to be simplistic, but it does need to be simple to learn and set up. We want our players to fully enjoy and immerse themselves in the experience, not to spend half their session trying to set up multiplayer lobbies and struggling with complex controls. Though some players book out and play for 2 hours at a time, most are only playing for 30-70 minutes. This is hardly enough time to get fully engaged with a game like Skyrim VR or Fallout VR - while these options are fun, they're really best for home play, which is part of why we have other choices instead.

 In Google Earth VR, the controllers always show you what the buttons do. It's easy to remember that way!

In Google Earth VR, the controllers always show you what the buttons do. It's easy to remember that way!

Of course, some people will pick up game mechanics more quickly than others, and we do maintain a list with a range of complexities. Staff will always be available to talk you through multiplayer setup and to assist with controls, but it’s best if a game is intuitive and/or has an engaging tutorial to teach players the basics before scaling up difficulty. Per Bushnell’s Law, the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master.

Commercial licensing

Finally, for us to offer a game, the developer and/or publisher must be willing to license it commercially. Because we don’t develop our own content on site, we must have permission to offer it to the public. This agreement can take a variety of forms. Most commonly, we pay a fee to license each offering per station per month. We do get a lot of questions about why we can’t offer certain content, or why we have to rotate our game offerings: generally, commercial licensing restrictions and costs are the answer.