News 6 puts new virtual reality gaming system to the test

Brand new system promises experience 'beyond imagination'

It's a scene that looks like it's right out of "The Walking Dead" playing out in your living room -- except you're really in another world, and instead of your favorite characters doing the zombie-slaying, it's all you.

It may sound like fantasy, and it is -- but it's also possible. It's all thanks to a new virtual reality gaming system called the HTC Vive.


It's brand new technology. News 6 staff got hands on the system through hardcore gamer and PC enthusiast Brad Lynch.

For the serious gamers, you may recognize his name from YouTube, where he's been posting videos of all the different games for the Vive for months. Lynch has tens of thousands of views and more than 16,000 subscribers.

But with the virtual reality, or VR, system now only on pre-order for $800--, how did he get his hands on it months ago?

"I submitted an idea three months ago to a contest, and the question was, 'What would be your ideal VR experience be?'," said Lynch. "When I submitted my idea in writing, they decided my experience idea was good enough to where they flew me in and I got to try all this stuff and keep a Vive of my very own."

Lynch was one of just 20 to get that honor--, and he said once he tried the system out, he was hooked.

"My mind was blown," Lynch said. "I realized right away when I put on the headset there was nothing like this. I never tried anything like it."

Lynch is not the only one to get hooked. Several News 6 staff members couldn't resist trying their hand at VR gaming.

First, it starts with a demo. It allows you to get comfortable with the safety zone, so you don't get hurt while playing. It also helps you beocso you can learn how to move and use the controllers in your virtual space. Then, you get to try your hand at one of the games in the Steam marketplace.

"To purchase games for the HTC Vive, you go on the Steam marketplace that is run by Valve," said Lynch. "Valve is also in a partnership with HTC to create and develop software for the Vive itself and you download it and it updates automatically if you purchase a game. Developers can choose whenever they want to update their game, add more features, whatever they want. The list of games keeps growing -- we have sandbox games, we have racer games, we have shooter games, space simulators, the list keeps going on as more developers pick up the device and decide this is a great thing to develop for."

Lynch said the other cool thing is, it's not just big companies creating games for the system. Because lots of independent developers are getting in the mix, they can release BETA versions of games, too, so you can try out a game as it's being created and updated.

Then, once you choose the game you want to play -- think about being in your living room, but as soon as you put on the headset, instead of sitting at home and watching the action go down on TV, you're creating the action.

You can ninja-slice flying fruit, explore a haunted mansion, go to a virtual job, shoot lasers, or play tennis, among other things. You're not just sitting still, you have to walk and move to explore the new space. Staff that tried the games said they were amazed at how totally immersed you truly are in whatever world you're visiting.

"I was just wondering how it was possible," said News 6 anchor Matt Austin. "I thought it was going to take a moment for me to adjust, for my eyes to adjust, when I first started playing it. But it's like, all of a sudden, it's like you step in and you're just there, you're in a different place. It was odd, I've never felt anything quite like that before. How does someone make a program that can do that? That's what pops into my head."

"It's every gamer's dream to be in it, in the world," said News 6 photojournalist Greg Wilson. "It's so much better than just looking at it on a monitor."

"I just think it's cutting edge, I think it's the next revolution of probably all gaming," said morning reporter and fill-in anchor Kirstin O'Connor. "As much as you want to go back to maybe, your Super Marios or your games that are old-school at this point, getting right inside a game and feeling immersed is going to be the future of this type of thing. It's hyper-stimulating, that's what people like, so I can't imagine it going backwards."

Lynch agreed.

"It's hard for people who see it on YouTube or just see it on the monitor, they need to see it for themselves to be able to experience the emotions and the feelings you get when you first try on the headset," said Lynch. "To PC enthusiasts that love building these insane rigs just like me, if you really want to use your device to its fullest potential, get one of these VR headsets and you will never regret it."

Here's where -- for the casual gamer or parent -- things get a little bit technical. The catch with this system is that even though it comes with the headset, two wireless controllers, two base stations, a linkbox, earbuds and accessories--, you can't play it without hooking it up to a computer. In most cases, that computer can't just be the machine you use for email and homework. The system requires a computer with certain specs to run properly.

Lynch didn't have this problem-- because he built his PC himself.

"My rig is built from an Intel i7-4790k processor as well as two Nvidia 980 Tis mashed with 24GB of DDR3 1600 MHz RAM," said Lynch.

HTC recommends the following minimum system requirements to use the Vive:

GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 970, AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or better
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-4590/AMD FX™ 8350 equivalent or better
RAM: 4 GB or more
Video output: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
USB port: 1x USB 2.0 or better port
Operating system: Windows® 7 SP1, Windows® 8.1 or later, Windows® 10

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