Hunicke comes to grips with VR

The way controllers are held informs the actions that feel right for players, says Funomena CEO

Form and function in VR interfaces are inexorably tied together, according to Robin Hunicke. As reported by Gamasutra, the Funomena CEO addressed the subject in her presentation at the Virtual Reality Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday.

Most current VR controllers use what Hunicke called a "power grip," where the user holds the controller the way they might hold an axe. It's good for powerful movements, but it lacks the finesse of a "precision grip," as one might use with a pencil or scalpel. The power grip is more closely associated with physical exertion, and just using it automatically tenses the player's shoulder and back muscles, she said.

A problem comes with games or software that replicate relaxing actions one would associate with the precision grip--she mentioned the VR sculpting game Tiltbrush--has players using a power grip to interact with it.

"Thinking about the way the hand is embodied is a huge focus for me as a designer," Hunicke said.

Despite the possible mismatch in real-world grip and VR activity, Hunicke encouraged developers to experiment with less forceful actions in VR.

"I want you to stop poking and punching and everything to see if it'll explode, but to 'be' and observe and listen," Hunicke said. "My motto is less poking, more stroking."

Funomena is currently working on Luna, a VR storybook puzzle game designed to be enjoyed by players of all ages.

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Latest comments (1)

Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup StudiosA year ago
That's an interesting distinction. I hope we'll see increasingly more delicate controller designs, just as we saw the classic four-button gamepad get shoulder buttons, analogue sticks and soft triggers added over time...
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