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First Person Shooters (Games) Games Technology

CCP Games Explains Why Virtual Reality First Person Shooters Still Don't Work 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the locate-enemy-then-fire-then-clean-vomit-from-keyboard dept.
An anonymous reader writes Icelandic studio CCP is better known for EVE Online, but its first foray into virtual reality with space shooter Valkyrie has caused a stir, and is widely seen as a flagship game for the Oculus Rift headset. In a new interview, Valkyrie executive producer Owen O'Brien explains what advantages the game will have when played with a headset — and gives his view on why a dogfighter is better suited to VR than a first person shooter: "People have hacked it together, but it doesn't really work," he says. "The basic problem is Simulator Sickness. In Valkyrie or any cockpit game or driving game, what you're doing in the real world, assuming you're sitting down, more or less mimics what your brain is telling you you're doing in the game. So you don't get that disconnect, and it's that disconnect that causes sickness. So, the problem with first-person shooters is that you're running or crouching or jumping in the game but not in the real world, and because it's so realistic it can make some people (not everybody) feel nauseated if they start doing it for extended periods of time."
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CCP Games Explains Why Virtual Reality First Person Shooters Still Don't Work

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  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday July 18, 2014 @01:23PM (#47484113) Homepage
    The Virtuix Omni is basically an omnidirectional treadmill.

    You use it in a VR environment and to move forward, you walk forward on the treadmilll.

    This should solve the simulator sickeness issue.

    • Went here to see whether a comment about Virtuix Omni has made it into the top three, was not dissapointed.

      I'm curious though, how they manage to integrate the controls into the game. If all you have is a joystick, that's one thing, but if you want to have a full cockpit controls, you probably need some sort of VR gloves (and some kind of Minority Report controls). I recall seeing such gloves on an Occulus Rift presentation, but forgot how the project was called.

      • by Dins (2538550)

        Went here to see whether a comment about Virtuix Omni has made it into the top three, was not dissapointed.

        Haha, me too! Although combining an Occulus Rift and and Omni is probably a bit too much like actual exercise to really take off in a big way. Yeah it's a neat gimmick, but not conducive to gaming for hours. Unless you are specifically using it to make your exercise routine more interesting, in which case it's a great idea. That would be a different user base than for most video games, though...

        • Went here to see whether a comment about Virtuix Omni has made it into the top three, was not dissapointed.

          Haha, me too! Although combining an Occulus Rift and and Omni is probably a bit too much like actual exercise to really take off in a big way. Yeah it's a neat gimmick, but not conducive to gaming for hours. Unless you are specifically using it to make your exercise routine more interesting, in which case it's a great idea. That would be a different user base than for most video games, though...

          It's true that most gamers aren't exactly fitness buffs. However, If VR and the Virtuix Omni makes a game more compelling and gives a player an advantage, then I think that you would see a higher adoption rate than you anticipate.

          Personally, I was thinking that if the Virtuix Omni becomes popular, gamers could become as fit as some professional athletes. Think about it, if you game for 6 hours a week using the treadmill, ducking, jumping, etc., all while having fun, you would get into shape fairly quickly

          • This is an anecdote, but back when the dance simulator games were a thing, that's exactly what happened. I had a friend who played Dance Dance Revolution quite extensively. He started out as a freshman in college at a heavyset 180 lbs. Two years of obsessive DDR knocked him down to 140 and pretty darn buff with a faintly visible six pack. Thanks to the core muscle build up, he hasn't really regained anything much in the ten years since.
            • by cbhacking (979169)

              My roommate still uses DDR (OK, technically Stepmania) as his workout routine. I tend to go with Dance Central on the Kinect instead, but... yeah, they're both amazing workouts.

      • by ArhcAngel (247594)
        You mean like Leap Motion? [leapmotion.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That depends on whether the sickness is caused by the lack of leg movement or not. It think there's a good chance the problem is tied to the inner ear (or more precisely your sense of movement vs. visual feedback), or possibly something else, in which case a treadmill might not help at all.

      This is only a guess, but I think the reason simulator games work okay is because real life piloting of cars and planes is actually what is outside our normal expectations for our physical movement versus our sen

      • by arth1 (260657)

        That depends on whether the sickness is caused by the lack of leg movement or not. It think there's a good chance the problem is tied to the inner ear (or more precisely your sense of movement vs. visual feedback), or possibly something else, in which case a treadmill might not help at all.

        Indeed - the Virtuex Omni is more likely to make things worse. Your eyes say one thing, your feet another[*], and your inner ear disagrees with the two.

        Think about it - when you drive a car, you don't have to move your feet like a mad runner in order to avoid feeling sick. Your inner ear gets the cues from the accelerations, and those match what you see, as long as you look out the windows. If, on the other hand, you're a kid that reads or play in the back seat, your visual cues don't match your inner e

        • So is that why those little shits constantly kick the back of the seat? to stave off motion sickness?

    • by vux984 (928602)

      The Virtuix Omni is basically an omnidirectional treadmill.

      You use it in a VR environment and to move forward, you walk forward on the treadmilll.

      This should solve the simulator sickeness issue.

      Sure until you reach some stairs, or a ladder, or need to jump down from a ledge. Or crouch. Or do anything interesting with a portal gun.

      And where do I put the keyboard and mouse? Or do I have to line up my shots with a toy rifle instead?

      Thus being wasted by people playing in a chair with a keyboard and mouse, becau

    • These are quite small! You could easily jump off it I think.

      What I'm waiting for is a BIG room like treadmill. Something you REALLY could move on as if you were in space

      • Two words: hamster ball

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        What you need is a force feed back suit, basically an extension of powered exoskeleton technology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] but instead of providing mechanical assistance it provides mechanical resistance. Not only can it be used in gaming but in remote robotics where the operator guides the robot and gets feedback from the robot for accurate motion. Think of the suit being suspended in mid air, holding the player up and allowing a full range of motion, quite expensive and really only for the relat

    • i doubt many people accustomed to fps's get motion sickness when playing with rift. I certainly don't.

      however the dude is peddling a space sim, not an fps.

      so, fuck him and his opinion.

      (for the record, there's some people who get motion sickness just watching someone else play fps on a normal screen.. so could just as well claim that fps's can't work at all)

  • So, the problem with first-person shooters is that you're running or crouching or jumping in the game but not in the real world

    Yeah, we know you're just trying to sell these. [virtuix.com]

  • So put together some cockpit graphics and make the player models look like mechs instead of people. I'll admit that we'll probably never be playing quake/unreal style FPS games in VR*, but that doesn't mean that we can't have VR FPS-style games. They'll just have to be a little different from the shooters we currently play.

    *Yes, there are omnidirectional treadmills, which will be great for getting gamers to exercise, but no one's going to be doing an all-day gaming session if they have to physically run the

    • This is exactly what I came to say. BZFlag or Descent still work. No need to run when you're in a vehicle.
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday July 18, 2014 @01:39PM (#47484251)
    Changes in the medium can have massive changes in the message that is best sent through that medium. Before TV radio plays were huge, but TV simply was a better medium. It wasn't that radio plays sucked but that telling episodic stories was done so much better on TV. Also when TV first started much of it was simply radio plays put back into a stage format and videotaped. Moving the camera through the scenery with lots of outdoor locations were a while coming and again the flat play like structure is still used in sitcoms.

    Within even moving our internet browsing and gaming to mobile devices has resulted in wildly different usage patterns, there are the obvious ones such as using map tools more but Facebook does not seem to have translated to mobile as well as instagram, or twitter. Also the first person shooter largely has failed on mobile whereas I don't think that Angry Birds would have gotten much traction in a desktop only universe.

    So surprise surprise VR goggles aren't turning out to be a screen you wear on your eyes but a whole new medium. I am willing to bet that there will be a genre that takes off on VR and that genre might not even really exist right now. Something really different. A simple example of different was that Wii games had a wildly different flavour than anything proceeding them. I don't remember a game prior to the Wii where I stood on a platform eagerly flapping my arms to propel what looked like a guy in a chicken suit though the air. Yet the Kinect games never caught my fancy as the games were often too serious and made me feel like a fool flapping my arms. The Just Dance game was close but was probably too late.

    I am going to throw this one out there for free: Maybe the VR goggles will take off in Colorado and Washington with the blockbuster title being "The Stoner Olympics"
    • by Ziggitz (2637281)
      This is a major point that a lot of developers don't take into account when designing for a new medium. Taking into I/O bandwidth from player to device plays a huge role in the success of the product. This is why twitter is so popular, the limitation of the character input makes it more suitable for phones because you'll never have to type a lot on a crappy phone keyboard and the screen is the ideal size to digest the same volume of content. Add in the ability to use the smartphone's strengths such as mo
      • by Agent0013 (828350)

        If as you can do with VR is reproduce a similar experience to a PC game no one will buy it. They'l just keep playing their PC games with their music on and reddit or youtube on their second monitor while enjoying a beverage. You have to offer a more immersive experience if you're going to limit multitasking and convenience.

        You could have a virtual monitor in your cockpit that you bring reddit or youtube up on. When you are on those long boring flights through space toward the far away target you need something to keep you entertained.

    • by rdnetto (955205)

      So surprise surprise VR goggles aren't turning out to be a screen you wear on your eyes but a whole new medium. I am willing to bet that there will be a genre that takes off on VR and that genre might not even really exist right now. Something really different.

      I suspect they would work quite well for (an evolution of visual novels), since those are already set in the first person, but don't require moving around the way FPSs do. Not sure how the controls would work though...

      • I think the key problem is that most games and real life situations require that you focus one task at a time. When we walk down the sidewalk we just need to look where we are going, the same with driving and so on. Thus most games based on real life won't translate. A space battle will probably translate fairly well so maybe asteroids will be one of the first big VR successes.

        Your novel idea would probably be pretty good if it is written so that more than one thing is going on at a time; and yes good lu
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 18, 2014 @01:46PM (#47484299)

    Wheelchair Hunter eXTreme

    You're sitting down. You could even sell wheels that attached to the side of office char armrests... and a gun accessory that tracked position relative to your body to match the virtual version.

    Or, a Battlezone clone where you are in an open cockpit.

  • Visualization is incredibly powerful, but bad visualization is incredibly bad. I find that any kind of response time lag between my inputs and the real world, especially when it varies, is what makes me sick — and I can play descent without chunking without any trouble, so long as the frame rate is kept up.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday July 18, 2014 @03:00PM (#47484867) Journal

      I find that any kind of response time lag between my inputs and the real world, especially when it varies, is what makes me sick ...

      My wife has vertigo. Her attacks can be triggered by fluorescent or high-pressure arc lights where the flicker rate is above the flicker-fusion rate of the eye. (This makes trips to warehouse stores problematic - they have to be short or she'll be down for the rest of the day. That's hard at, say, Costco.)

      I used to wonder how this could be, and finally realized that the "strobe light" effect produces small, but significant, errors in observed position of the background items (shelves, etc.) that she uses for reference to balance despite the damaged inner ear.

      When they first began using fluorescent lights in factories - in the days before guards over moving machinery were common - the worker injury rate went 'way up. Turns out the lights made the AC-powered motors, turning at or near an integer fraction of the line frequency, look like they were stopped or only moving slowly.

      The fix was to build the light fixtures in two-tube versions, with a capacitor and an extra inductor in the balast, so the "lead lamp" and "lag lamp" would light at a quarter-cycle offset. In combination with suitably persistent phosphors this made them largely fill in each other's dim times, enough to make fast-moving parts blur and look like they were moving. For large arc lights, a similar fix was to arrange them so adjacent lamps were distributed among the three phases of the power feed, rather than having rows or patches of lights all flickering in unison.

      Unfortunately, this lore has apparently been lost - at least outside the specialists wiring factories full of moving parts. Warehouse stores have rows and sections of arc lighting all wired to the same phase. I'm not sure, but I don't think the new electronic ballasts for flourescent lights do the lead-lag thing, OR have enough raw filtering capacitance to power the lamp through the phase reversals. (And then there's LED lamps...)

      It's not a safety hazard these days, now that OSHA rules have all the fast-spinning machinery covered with guards. But for those with vertigo it's a big problem.

  • by Junta (36770) on Friday July 18, 2014 @01:50PM (#47484349)

    I have high hopes that the movement won't bother me, I've never had a hint of the issues many report, though I haven't tried VR, per se.

    I will say even if there is a problem for people who can stand it when it's a conventional screen but lose it at the threshold of VR, there is yet hope for FPS genre without cockpits. Imagine playing your game and the monitor having the appearance of a movie theater screen. An experience that is totally impractical in reality, but not really much of a big deal in VR. There is a lot of interest in things like VR Cinema and virtual desktop (https://developer.oculusvr.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=8182). In both cases, the medium is still fundamentally not motion sensing or surrounding in any way, but the concept of playing with screen size, curvature, and distance freely all while not imposing any particular posture is quite appealing.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Friday July 18, 2014 @01:54PM (#47484371)

    Seriously - how many VR FPSes limit motion to anything resembling realistic speeds? Especially rotation. The average FPS has you running around at probably 20+mph and spinning 180* in a fraction of a second with a flick of the wrist. It takes me 3-4 seconds to complete a full rotation in real life at normal speeds, and if I spend much time turning quicker than that I start to get nauseous without any simulator needed. I can turn my head faster, but there's a lot more biofeedback maintaining orientation in that case. Spinning at FPS speeds should be generating massive accelerations of your inner ear, not to mention instantly launching from a complete standstill to a 20mph run - I'm not at all surprised that the absence of such accelerations throws people for a loop.

    I haven't heard many complaints of nausea from the various VR first-person adventure games, and I can't help thinking tat that is largely because they are typically far slower paced than a twitchy FPS. An obvious solution would be more realistically paced FPSes. Or potentially even just considerably gentler accelerations. Maybe you can still run at 20mph, but it takes you 5-10 seconds to get there from a complete stop. Can't see any solution for faster spinning as radial acceleration is constant at constant speed, but then I'm not sure it's needed - being able to look around at a realistic pace should greatly reduce the need for instant spins, especially if you can aim independently from head tracking so that you can fire directly backwards at that guy just visible in the edge of your vision while looking over your shoulder.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...especially if you can aim independently from head tracking so that you can fire directly backwards at that guy just visible in the edge of your vision while looking over your shoulder.

      What you're suggesting presents a whole new class of problems actually (from personal experience from while messing about with the Rift). The issue is that from the VR's headset point of view, there is no difference between rotating your swivel chair and facing a direction and moving your head.
      The reason this matters is for having intuitive controls. When you push forward on your d-pad, and you're facing forward, you expect to go forward. When you press forward while facing right, you expect to go right

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Ditch the swivel chair and I imagine a Mech-style control scheme would work just fine - a 3-axis joystick controls fore/aft, strafe, and swivel, while turning your head/twisting your torso controls view as expected with kinesthetics giving you an excellent awareness of "forward". Add mouse for an independent or semi-independent aim/interaction cursor and you should be good to go. Or with a dual-stick gamepad, one is 2-axis movement and the other turning and possibly jump/crouch or something. And of cour

    • by sexconker (1179573) on Friday July 18, 2014 @02:33PM (#47484711)

      It takes me 3-4 seconds to complete a full rotation in real life at normal speeds, and if I spend much time turning quicker than that I start to get nauseous without any simulator needed

      3-4 seconds? Is that 1 second per hundred pounds?

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Hardly - you up to join me for a 10 mile hike tomorrow?

        Seriously - walk around for a while at a normal walking pace and pay attention to how fast your body actually turns when going around corners. Or sit somewhere and watch other people do so as they go about their day - it's not nearly as fast as you would imagine. Certainly we *can* turn much faster without much effort, but we don't normally do so. Which means that FPS style games are simulating us turning much faster than normal, and if you add in wid

    • That's one of the prime reasons I don't bother with most FPS-like games. Movement/directional schemes are almost exclusively tied to your mouse report rate. Many of the Action/RPG's have similar movement schemes as well, unfortunately.
    • I think its the other way around, VR headsets lag compared to your head moving just enough to fuck with you.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Certainly, but lag is an independent issue from speed (much like lag and bandwidth). It's long been known that disagreements between what your eyes and your inner ear think is happening can make you nauseous, and here we have a case where darting around with lots of sudden stops and spins at FPS speeds (and possibly more importantly, with infinite acceleration) should be generating rather dramatic inner-ear responses, which of course are completely absent because in reality you're sitting still. Cockpit g

  • and because it's so realistic it can make some people (not everybody) feel nauseated if they start doing it for extended periods of time.

    I had to quit playing FPS games for that very reason. I would get nauseous after a few minutes until I started taking ginger pills, which also work for me on boats. Can't rule out that it's not purely psychological but they worked whatever the reason.

    Apparently ancient Chinese mariners used to use ginger for seasickness, but they all died anyway and didn't respawn.

  • by Knutsi (959723) on Friday July 18, 2014 @01:59PM (#47484401)

    While I know some people are very suspetible to gettin simsick, I just want to add that some arent. I have used a Rift DK1 to play Half-Life 2, and it is the best FPS experience I have ever had. It adds an unbeliable amount of spacial sense and experience. I would not play it again without the Rift.

    That said, I do need to take breaks every 45 minutes or so, and cannot play for more than three hours or so. Still, its absolutely worth it.

  • 3D viewing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There are two sets of muscles for eye movement - one for convergence, which rotates the eyes, the other for focus, which reshapes the eyes. These typically work in sync, allowing proper focus wherever one looks. In any given 3D system, however, the focus is fixed at the screen distance & never varies, while the eyes converge continuously for objects perceived at different depths. It is this disparity - one set of muscles attempting to remain fixed while the other changes continuously - that causes the b

    • There are two sets of muscles for eye movement - one for convergence, which rotates the eyes, the other for focus, which reshapes the eyes...

      The latter system also reshapes the lens.

      Unfortunately, as you age your lenses stiffen up and/or the muscles get weaker, and that system gradually degrades. (This "disease of age" (presbyopia) becomes significant pretty early - about mid 30s.)

      (By the way: The eye rotation is actually THREE axis, although the motion around the line-of-sight is pretty limited. {Look i

    • I explored the Oculus Rift for two weeks and what you are describing fits exactly with what I experienced. The first time I used the Rift, I coudl not keep it on for more than 2 hours. The next day, I had it on for about 8 hours. The strain was so bad that I could not use it at all the following day.

      I eventually became "comfortable" with all aspects of the Rift but no matter what, my eyes still felt "odd" after removing the headset. That is why I did not order the future development kit. In theory, it would

  • Used to play Doom II for hours on end. And then one day, it was like a switch turned on my brain. Now, any FPS makes me motion sick. Quake, Duke, etc etc, I try to play, and up comes whatever is in the stomach. Oh well. Back to RTSs for me. :)

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Was that perhaps the day you got a bigger monitor? Motion sickness is primarily influenced by what goes on in your peripheral vision. I've only ever gotten motion sickness on sims with wraparound displays on the sides, and it's quite awesome. Still saving up for extra screens for my gaming rig at home so I can have those side panels.

  • VR would be best suited to games where you remain seated, mostly look forward, mostly travel in a straight line and the game controls map onto equivalent virtual controls. Something like a race car, plane or space ship.

    I suppose a FPS would be possible providing the person can remain seated but there are obvious control issues to figure out. For example if I look around for real, e.g. turn my head to look over my shoulder, what does that mean in a game where I'm lying prone staring down an iron sight at

    • by Tailhook (98486)

      I was thinking similarly. Their vampire game stalled out and died, as far as I know. They ultimately ended up apologizing for neglecting EVE while making incredibly sophisticated in-game avatars for a cohort of gamers least likely to care about such frippery. DUST 514 appears to be a failure, judging by CCPs own statements and the announcement of Project Legion, another attempt at MMOFPS.

      One could be forgiven for thinking there are better places to find clues about the future of gaming.

  • From my Crystalfighter blog [crystalfighter.com]

    May 2nd, 2014: I just thought of a killer game with Occulus Rift. Imagine outerspace sports. Imagine one where if you extend your legs or arms out full, they have thrust. The thrust can propel you around, or push the ball around. You'd have to be in a sphere(suspended in a harness) which rotated around instead of the standard treadmill design. So this installation would only be good for amusement parks and... arcades(heh)? The downside of this game is that people will get HYP
  • Originally I couldn't play 3D games. They made me ill.
    Most 3D movies STILL make me ill.

    However, I was able to train myself to play without needing to puke.
    But watching someone else play still makes me incredibly queasy.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to try out an Occulus Rift.
    It hit me the same way. I had to stop playing before it got too bad. One of my colleagues was visibly ill after just a few moments.

    Now some of it IS simply a matter of resolution and framerate.
    But, as mentioned, some of it is due t

  • A problem that I think is bigger than motion sickness is the fundamental problem with locking vision and movement with where your gun is pointed. It doesn't come off as natural in the slightest, because your body is used to doing lots of different things at the same time.
  • I played a lot of games and I always found that first person view games stood the best chance of giving me motion sickness. I think a console game called Spiral the Dragon was one of the worst. On the other hand racing games, space sim games and flying games gave me the least problems which to me proves that this statement makes perfect sense. Maybe this VR tech will bring back the popularity of these kinds of games considering they were my favourites when I was a kid.

    On the other hand I remember reading

  • So don't sit down or run around in a 5x5 space and play. Augment the reality of running around a parking garage, the woods, whatever, with enemies, enhanced surfaces, objects, obstacles you won't be touching, etc., but let the player's motion be real. Then we'll benefit from the exercise, too. From the opposite perspective, that of making exercise less boring, wouldn't you run better if someone was chasing you or you were chasing someone? I know it's going to look hilarious to those around you without the A
  • C'mon, be honest, don't tell me you don't duck when trying to avoid bullets flying over your head, or leaning to the side when trying to make that tight bend in GTA.

    • by Quirkz (1206400)

      The first time I played Doom I was so antsy trying to look around corners I was physically standing up in my seat and leaning around the side of the monitor, as if that would help. I grew out of that reflex with practice, though.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      C'mon, be honest, don't tell me you don't duck when trying to avoid bullets flying over your head, or leaning to the side when trying to make that tight bend in GTA.

      The other night I was playing Red Orchestra 2 and I was prone behind a fence and found myself craning my head to try and see under the fence a little bit better.

  • OF course, twitchy fps's such as CoD or CS would be horrible with VR, as the movement is way too quick. But slower games such as Red Orchesatra 2 or more survival-type games such as DayZ would be incredible with VR. While "e-sport" type FPS's like CoD an Halo might flounder, I think VR will be a boon for more realistic sims and tactical shooters. I look forward to the day where I can play a game and look around and feel like I'm crossing the scorching hot steppes of Russia in 1942, crawling through the j
  • The brain gets lots of sensory input. It has evolved some kind of input validation procedure. The inner ears are sending information about which direction is up and which is down. We are also getting visual input, from which you can deduce the "up" direction. The trees and shrubs in the jungle, pillars, walls of the building etc tell the "up" direction. The brain expects them to be in synch. When they contradict one another, it could be due to some poisonous thing one has eaten. So throwing up is a reasonab
    • by Junta (36770)

      Or it could be a deviation that had little to no practical downside in selection since the world rarely went that weird in the past. It would explain why motion sickness is so prevelant, yet not close to universal. There may just have been very little selective pressure either way.

      I think on the poison theory, if your senses are impacted, the ship has sailed on ejecting the poison.

      If it was a selected-for trait, my completely unsubstantiated guess would be something about falling out of or maneuvering wit

  • I don't see anything about being able to use a joystick to fly in this game; which was a disappointment for me with EVE online, flying by point and click isn't the same.

  • It's not that FPS games don't work, it's just that they have to be designed differently in order to create presence, and provide a pleasant experience, something that running around and jumping like crazy will not do.
  • tend to get sick when exercising.

  • So, the problem with first-person shooters is that you're running or crouching or jumping in the game but not in the real world, and because it's so realistic it can make some people (not everybody) feel nauseated if they start doing it for extended periods of time.

    Wasn't there a whole series of hacks, starting with Doom-2 and probably continuing to every FPS since, which hooked up treadmills (or bicycles on stands), barbells on springs, grip-strength testers and suchlike fitness equipment so that you HAD t

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