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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Oculus Rift

A 3D virtual reality headset transports gamers into their fictional world. 


In USC's engineering building fantasy meets reality. 

"We've all had dreams of flying. We've all wanted to do that at one point in our lives. But in our game, you can do it. You can fly. You can just run off the edge and fly," said game designer Mike Langley. 

A select group of USC game designers are launching into the world of Rhea. It's a Roman empire civilization they've created where players can explore the deserted city and fly to complete the game's challenges. 

"When you're in the Rift, you feel like you're flying," said Langley.

Langley works with a team of about 20 Trojans to craft Rhea with such detail you feel like you're experiencing it. It's all thanks to the Oculus Rfit.

Rhea is engineered for the newest and most-wanted virtual reality goggles called the Oculus Rift. 

"It's like nothing you've ever really had access for," said lead Rhea designer Baldur Tangvald. "It's very immersive. It's very realistic."

Twenty-one year-old Palmer Luckey created the Oculus Rift so that gamers can enter the world they're playing in. On March 26, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion.

This pair of virtual reality goggles is turning heads because of its HD quality and motion detection. The Oculus Rift allows users to have a wider field of vision. The designer added the accelerometer, so when you put on the goggles you can look around the game just by moving your head. 

However, the immersive experience does cause motion sickness.

"We can't just accelerate players left and right and do all these crazy things you do in other games because it makes people sick," said Adrian Swanberg, Rhea's lead engineer. 

Luckey warns game designers to be careful when they code so gamers aren't thrown around in the headset.

"I don't think it'll ever eclipse mainstream games that take place on a flat screen monitor," Swanberg explains, "but I think they'll certainly be a niche for it."

Designers and Luckey both predict that niche could be in education.

"You can be in the Grand Canyon and have a 2D image to scale around you digitally and have people point out the different geological formations and how they've weathered over time," said Tangvald.

But this vision will have to wait. The official Oculus Rift hasn't been released yet. These Trojans are designing Rhea on a Development Kit, which is a trial verison of the product.

Luckey has sold more than 50,000 Development Kits at $300 a piece, bringing in more than $15 million dollars. He hopes to release the first consumer version also for $300 in the near future. 

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