Behind the Wheel With PlayStation VR and Gran Turismo

BU News Service reporter Charles Borsos tries PlayStation's virtual reality Gran Turismo Sport demo at CES 2017 on Thursday, Jan. 5. Photo by Erin Wade/BU News Service

By Charles Borsos
BU News Service

I was behind the wheel of a $400,000 McLaren 650S GT3, doing about 130 mph when I hit a hairpin turn. I’ll be honest—I wasn’t paying attention. I was just sort of looking around at the interior of the car and when I looked up, I was going just as fast but also spinning like a top in the dirt.

I didn’t crash per se, but even the ever-so minor damages I caused to the paint, front and rear bumpers, door and hood could have bankrupted me. Fortunately, the steering wheel in my hands wasn’t connected to a real car. The McLaren I was sitting in was part of Sony’s demo of their PlayStation virtual reality headset at CES 2017.

The PlayStation VR was released in October this year and what was new at Sony’s CES booth was the demo of the Gran Turismo Sport racing game. An exclusive title to the PlayStation 4, GT Sport is the first of the series to support virtual reality. After some delays, it is set to be released sometime this year.

The demo at CES included a racing seat, pedals, and a steering wheel to give tactile feedback and aid the headset’s visuals. After sitting down, I was handed the headset and slipped it onto my head. The screens could be adjusted to accommodate your vision, but I actually couldn’t get the headset to focus properly.

It couldn’t be adjusted to get the screens close enough to my eyes. If I physically pressed the front of the headset, the image became much clearer, but this wasn’t a practical solution. I don’t believe that there is anything special about my eyesight. In fact, at a recent optometrist check up I was told I have very good eyesight. I’m not sure if there was some other setting that could be changed to sharpen things up, but I decided to press on and get driving.

The demo allowed you to take a couple laps around a racetrack. The first lap was pretty rough. The steering wheel would shake and turn and it took a little while to get used to that feedback. During the second lap I got the hang of things, but as I started to drive a little faster, I got a a bit dizzy. When I looked left and right, I got the strange sensation that the chair was floating away from me and I went back to looking dead ahead through the virtual windshield.

I didn’t really realize how dizzy I had become until the demo was over and I stood up. I had heard about people feeling sick using VR, but I never thought it would happen to me. I never get motion sickness!

Using the PlayStation VR was my first real experience with VR. I had a good time driving around, but there were some issues. I can’t make a judgment just yet, but I hope to get the opportunity to give it another shot soon.

4 Comments

  • Owning a PSVR, there is definitely a “sweet spot” when positioning the headset. If you can’t get the image to clear up by moving the display closer, you need to adjust the headset’s position on your head, then adjust the display. After some trial and error, you’ll find the head position that works for you.

  • This is not an article. It’s closer to what I’d expect in a 1-star Amazon rating comment. No details about the actual game of Gran Turismo in VR (except you got sick), the racing simulation setup/hardware, or Sony’s CES setup/staff/games for that matter. I spent more time writing this feedback to ensure I was being constructive than I did reading it. I hope you can take a lesson from the extra effort that’s required to be informative.

  • You may not get motion sick with chill visuals like riding in a car or boat, and you probably wouldn’t if you road at normal driving speeds in VR, but when the visuals are as intense as 130 MPH, you are gona feel it, unless you have a brain problem and your brain fails to alert your body that you might have ingested a poison causing visual issues. As for the blur, you probably pushed your cheek or forehead on the lens when fitting on the headset. Your skin oils leave a smudge. I have done it enough times that I can tell now when it’s a smudge or if I just need to adjust the headset, but at first I would try adjusting and wonder if my eyes were the problem.

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