What is Rec Room and what makes it so great?
Rec Room is a free, social virtual reality game that allows people to get together, join one of the many worlds offered, and enjoy a wide variety of activities; most of the said activities and worlds, are also, in fact, user-created.
Rec Room’s content is mostly user-generated, similar to games such as Roblox or VRChat. The users create the world, model the objects, and script the necessary behaviours before sharing their creations for others to enjoy. Players have even gone on to recreate well-beloved games or franchises in Rec Room, such as Five Nights at Freddy’s, Uno, Wordle, Harry Potter and many more. The only limitation of what they can create is their imagination.
With many users developing content daily, it allows for a seemingly limitless number of activities for other players to engage in. Players can bowl with one another, play laser tag, do stand-up comedy and much more. With so many different activities, there is bound to be something for everyone.
But what makes this game different from Roblox or VRChat besides the graphics?
All of the games share a similar concept, players can join their friends in various activities, and they can create content and share it.
However, one of the key differences is that, unlike Roblox or VRChat where the player has to download external tools to create and script the world (VRChat uses Unity, while Roblox uses a tool called Roblox Studio), Rec Room tools are built into the game. This not only allows for a much gentle learning curve for beginners compared to the other two games but also allows users to immediately view and interact with their creations, making the process more efficient.
An immersive experience
While the game is available on various other devices such as mobile phones, PC, Playstation, and many more, the experience is simply not the same as compared to playing it on a VR headset.
Rec Room makes full use of the motion capture system of a VR headset. Players can freely look around the world just by moving their heads around instead of having to manually pan their screen.
The arm motions through the controllers are also replicated in-game, such as waving your arm in real life will result in your in-game avatar’s arm waving. Users can also use this functionality to interact with in-game objects; for example, to play in-game basketball, players would just need to perform actions they would normally do in real life. This also allows for more expressive and unique interactions with the world and other players.
In the game, there is also an in-game microphone that enables players to communicate with one another. The volume of their voice changes dynamically depending on the distance between their avatars.
All this makes the game feel immersive as the motions and actions in the real world are also closely reflected in the virtual world.
Motion Sickness? What if you don’t have your VR legs?
Motion sickness is something many suffer when they first enter virtual reality, especially so when it is their first time. This happens when users aren’t accustomed to the mixed signals received by the brain from the eyes and the inner ear (contains ‘sensors’ to help keep the body balanced).
Visually, the players see themselves moving in the virtual world, however in reality the body is stationary. This disparity between what the inner ear and eyes senses causes a disconnect among users, which in turn, causes the feeling of motion sickness and nausea. (This can also happen for first-person games, not just VR games)
Of course, one way to fix this would be to use an omnidirectional treadmill, but that’s not exactly something that can be readily obtained by most consumers. (It’s pricey and big)
Rec Room like many other VR games and applications uses the joystick of the controller to move around the world. However, Rec Room also added an additional feature, the ability to “teleport” around as a substitute for walking in the world.
This feature helps to reduce motion sickness as users are no longer forcing their inner ear to constantly adapt to the artificial motion since the visuals comes to them. Thus, making the experience much more enjoyable.
Why I personally enjoy it so much
During the height of covid lockdowns, Rec Room was one of the few ways I could engage in activities with my friends.
The motions and controls are intuitive as they closely replicated the physical world. With this, my friends and I were able to play a wide variety of games without much confusion.
The user interface was also easy to understand and did not feel intrusive. All I had to do was look at my Avatar’s wrist, and a simple menu will pop up. I was even able to use hand gestures to invoke certain actions, such as shaking hands with another player to become friends or putting up a stop gesture to ignore a player. Not having to open a separate menu to perform those actions made interacting with the world much more enjoyable.
And while the visuals were simplistic, it was visually appealing and the low poly graphics suited the wide and wild variety of activities offered.
I had a fun time with my friends trying out the different activities and getting immersed in the world.
While I did have a lot of fun with Rec Room, my biggest gripe was the lack of options to adjust the volume of other players’ microphones.
Some of my friends had a softer mic, and it was hard to hear them from time to time even when their avatars were standing close by. It can also be quite disorienting in VR to hear the different volumes of voices even when the avatars are standing at the same distance from you.
There is a universal volume setting for the players’ voices, however, raising it meant every player’s microphone sound volume will also be raised. The players with a louder mic will still end up talking over those with a softer mic, thus, defeating the purpose of turning up the volume.
A possible solution will be to have a setting similar to what Discord has, where you can adjust the volume of a specific player. This will make it so that we can better hear one another and the experience won’t be ruined when you’re barely able to hear someone, or when someone with a particularly loud mic starts shouting beside you.
Rec Room is able to take advantage of what a virtual headset can offer to provide a fun and immersive VR experience for players. The controls are intuitive, the user interface and experience are pleasant, and it has a wide range of activities for players to engage in.
It is a fun game and a great experience in the virtual world that I, along with many others greatly enjoy!
Courtney, A. (2022, October 11). Rec Room Vs VRChat: Which Is The Best Social VR Game. VR Lowdown. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://vrlowdown.com/rec-room-vs-vrchat/
Create & Learn Team (2022, April 29). Roblox Tutorial: How to Make a Game. Create&Learn. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.create-learn.us/blog/roblox-tutorial-how-to-make-a-game/
Moss, G. (2018, September 18). Motion Sickness In VR Sucks (Here’s What To Do About It). VR Fitness Insider. https://www.vrfitnessinsider.com/motion-sickness-sucks/
Rec Room. (2017, May 3). How to Rec Room #4 – Stop Gesture [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/2bWTgmAxBes
Rec Room. (2017, April 6). How To Rec Room #3 – Shake Hands to Make Friends [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/epo3Gw9NMDs