An example of VR sports: The Climb

I have heard VR+Sports for a long time, but have never believed its practicability — we are living in the real world, why should we do sports in the virtual world? At the end of the day, doing sports virtually is not as convenient as in the real world.

I stuck to this idea stubbornly, until I got my shoulder injury. In a judo sparring, a non-standard Ippon-seoi-nage broke my left shoulder. “AC-joint separation, ” the doctor told me, “had better never do any competitive sports anymore. ” I stopped doing all kinds of sports. But to promote injury recovery and muscle soundstage, I needed to do lots of rehabilitative exercises. The so-called rehabilitative exercises were just some basic upper body movements, which were so boring that I hardly liked to do them.

Since I could not do sports outsides, it is at that time that I started playing VR games at home. Shortly, I found playing VR games can be an ideal substitute for rehabilitative exercises. Especially, The Climb fitted my situation perfectly. First, when playing The Climb, I needed to hold my hands overhead and do lots of overhead movements, which were especially good for my shoulder injury. Second, in The Climb, I did not need to do any quick movements, which prevents me from secondary injury. Third, I did not need to move my location, so I can play it in any place, including my small bedroom. Last but not least, the game scene was so awesome and realistic. I held myself by small pivots. Above me was the cliff. Behind me was the abyss. The wind in the canyon blew me. The eagle whistled while circling in the air. I am fully focused on my movement, looking for any protruding rock to grab, keeping my balance, and carefully moving to the goal, just like a real freestyle solo. Oh, God. What an immersive experience!

After three months of playing this game, I went to the hospital for a recheck. “What did you do?”, the doctor was shocked, “MRI result shows your left shoulder has fully recovered!” I told him about my experience in the virtual world. He said, “Amazing! VR should be a new kind of treatment. The Climb should be known by other patients of mine.”

Via this experience, I realize the practicability of VR+Sports. It is not a substitute but a complement for real-world sports. It gives a chance to experience sports for the people in rehabilitation and the disabled. It also gives a chance to experience extreme sports for normal people without risk.

Although many VR sports games have achieved good performance, there is still room to improve. Take The Climb as an example. After my recovery, I feel it is too easy to play it as an exercise. One simple but useful idea to improve it is, we can design a pair of trackers with removable counterweights. The more counterweights we add, the heavier the trackers are, and the harder the exercise is.

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