New research shows that children not only love to use the upcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, but they want to see it used in schools and other areas outside of gaming.
A focus group of 12 children (aged between seven and 12 years old), arranged by youth research agency and game development studio Dubit, revealed their thoughts and opinions of the futuristic device.
Dubit’s head of research, Peter Robinson, said: “The overarching message from our sessions is that children love using Oculus Rift and felt immersed in the games in ways they’ve never felt before. Comments along the lines of it being the best way to play games were common. Oculus VR may not see children as their core market but there’s no doubting the device’s potential popularity with kids.
“We were glad to see that none of the children in our groups felt dizzy or ill after using the headset; the only usability issues occurred when the children had to move their heads to look down and found the headset heavy. A couple of the younger children also reported fitting issues with the head-straps. With lighter headsets on the way we don’t see Oculus Rift causing many usability issues for young wearers.”
“Without prompting all children said they thought virtual reality would be great in their schools," added Robinson. "They thought it would make lessons more interesting and allow them to take ‘virtual field tips’. But they wanted to do more than just visit new places; they wanted to go back in time and interact with people, like the Captain of the Titanic or people living in Tudor England and get their views on history. They were more interested about exploring history than changing it through gaming.
“We also found that children placed great emphasis on exploration – a trait they wanted to see in all games, not just educational experiences.”
On pricing, Robinson commented: “While there was quite a swing between estimates the average price suggested by the children was £430, quite a lot higher than we expected.
"To gauge their ability to estimate such costs we asked them to guess the price of existing technology like games consoles, mobile devices and TVs. In all cases, except for the TV, their average estimates were within £50 of the correct price, showing they have a good idea of tech costs.”
The children also said they would like to see popular video game Minecraft made compatible with the device – a game that is already being used by some UK schools to teach children about creative writing.
Robinson added: "While most of the children wanted to see Oculus Rift used in first-person-shooter games like Call of Duty – yes, even the young ones – it was games that allowed them to explore, like Skyrim, or create their own content, Minecraft, that came up time and time again as being great fits for virtual reality.
"We didn’t have the heart to tell them that Notch had refused to bring his game to the system due to the Facebook acquisition – maybe now he’ll reconsider.”
Oculus VR – the company behind the Oculus Rift headset – was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in March this year.