New video game technology in Central Florida

Developers say 'Oculus Rift' more real than anything else

ORLANDO, Fla. - There's no question -- we've come a long way from video games like Super Mario Brothers and Sonic The Hedgehog.

Right now, developers in Central Florida are working with groundbreaking technology that, they say, is making games more realistic than anything you kids have seen before.

It's a bulky headset called the Oculus Rift.

"It's cool 'cause you can look places where you usually can't in regular games," says 13-year-old Nick Noel, who recently tried out the headset.

The device covers your eyes and tracks your head movements. So, whereever your head goes, the game follows -- up down, and side to side.

"I just feel like I'm there," says Noel. "What I've always wanted in a video game was to actually be at that moment, right there."

Now he is -- in 3D, no less.

"As soon as you put this headset on, you really are kind of cut off from the world," says Nick Zuccarello, a faculty member at the Florida International Entertainment Academy in Downtown Orlando.

FIEA, for short, is UCF's video game design school and right now, its staff is getting a rare opportunity to sample the Oculus Rift before it hits stores.

"It's kind of like you transport yourself into another space, another world, another kind of dimension," says Zuccarello. "I've been waiting for this type of experience for quite some time."

The gameplay is so real and lifelike, some critics feel that this technology is going to far.

"What we see in games, on TV, is a fantasy, it's not real" says Monica Oganes, a licensed school psychologist in Maitland.

Oganes points to research from the American Psychological Association, which finds that violent video games can make kids more aggressive, no matter how much they play.

"I think parents, educators, health provides need to pay close attention to these games" says Oganes.

Even Nick Zuccarello at FIEA admits that he has concerns.

One of the main platforms for the Oculus Rift is mobile devices, and Zuccarello worries that almost anyone will create any kind of game, no matter how violent or inappropriate.

"There's so much good that can be done with this technology," says Zuccarelly. "But at the same point, if somebody wanted to use it for non-good, that's gonna be up to them Everybody is gonna have to take responsibility for what content they create."

Ultimately, both Oganes and Zuccarello say that parents need to be aware of everything your kids are playing.

Right now, the Oculus Rift is only being developed for mobile devices and computers -- not the Playstation or Xbox.

While no official release date has been set, Zuccarello expects it to be in stores about a year from now, costing around $300.

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