The 2019 Holiday VR Gift Guide: Expanding Reality With Family And Friends

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A multi-generational, laughter-evoking and joy-centric take on what virtual reality experiences to try this holiday season.

Did you give (or receive! yay!) your first virtual reality headset this holiday? Or maybe you are considering buying virtual reality for a friend or loved one? Or maybe you’re looking for some new, fun, joy-filled content? The 2019 VR Holiday Gift Guide is here to help! VR is for everyone and this guide is a multi-generational, laughter encouraging, and cheerful take on what VR experiences to try this holiday season.

With the launch of the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S in 2019, VR has gone from inaccessibly expensive and complex, to a much more approachable technology (comparable to traditional game consoles). Over 6 million headsets have shipped in 2019 so far, with buyers are expanding beyond traditional gamers. 

VR experiences go beyond gaming, allowing developers to inject a sense of curiosity, empathy, and intuition into fun and joy-filled challenges, puzzles, and stories. You don’t need to be a young, tech-savvy gamer to enjoy these alternate realities. Grab your family and friends, trust your instincts, and allow your inner-child to have some fun with the following immersive experiences and games:

Family holiday fun:

Image Credit: Beat Saber
  • Beat Saber
    • If you’ve grown up in the era of Star Wars, you are familiar with the main element of this game — lightsabers! Now take those lightsabers totally out of context, drop in some rhythmic music, and you have the #1 VR game in the world. Powerful beats make Beat Saber super easy to learn but hard to master. After every song, you get a score ranging from A to F. Needless to say, the overachievers out there are going to sink a lot of hours into this addictive experience… “Just one more song!” 
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive & Vive Pro, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, PlayStation VR
    • Website: https://beatsaber.com/ 
Image Credit: Owlchemy Labs
  • Vacation Simulator
    • Welcome to the Future of VACATIONS! Players are transported through time to the year 2060 where robots teach you the proper ways to enjoy a vacation. Whether you want to relax by the beach, hit the slopes, or roast a marshmallow, this whimsical world will fill you and your family with joy as you practice and perfect your vacation-skills. 
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive & Vive Pro, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, PlayStation VR
    • Website: https://vacationsimulatorgame.com/
Image Credit: TOAST
  • Richie’s Plank Experience 
    • Mind over matter! This fun, silly, science experiment challenges you to step out onto a plank of wood located 80 stories above the ground. An after-dinner challenge with your family to see who can walk out further on the plank will bring you belly-aching laughter. Everyone will quickly feel the strong emotional and physical effects of the immersive power of VR with this vertigo-inducing experience. It’s so simple and so fun. 
    • Rating: PG-13
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, PlayStation VR
    • Website: https://toast.gg/
Image Credit: Beast, Inc.
  • Beast Pets
    • If you think puppies and kittens are adorable, wait until you come face-to-face with a baby dragon! These sweet, nuzzling, purring dragons just want your love and affection! All generations can enjoy this magical experience as they feed, cuddle, and play with multiple baby dragons at your local beast park. 
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Windows Mixed Reality
    • Website: https://www.beastpets.com/
Image Credit: Steel Crate Games
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
    • How well do you actually communicate with your family members? The clock is ticking in this fun puzzle game where groups are tasked with disarming a deadly explosive before time runs out. The catch: only the VR player can see the bomb! Using a printed manual detailing all the necessary instructions for deactivating the explosive, you and your family will have to work together, communicate and strategize in order to survive; will your relationships survive this challenge?! 
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Oculus Go, PlayStation VR
    • Rating: PG-13
    • Website: https://keeptalkinggame.com/

For the Artists, Musician, and Dreamers:

Image Credit: Google
  • Tilt Brush
    • Welcome to the future of painting! From your niece who loves doodling to your cousin who thinks she’s Picasso, Tilt Brush is sure to please art-lovers by turning any room into their own personal canvas! Step inside your painting to view and paint from any angle. This no-mess art room opens up access to unlimited textures and strokes to play with, from crayon and pencil shavings, to whimsical brush strokes made of sparkles, fire, neon, rainbows, snow, and smoke. It’s easy to let your imagination run wild in this magical 3D art tool! 
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, Valve Index
    • Website: https://www.tiltbrush.com/
Image Credit: TribeXR Inc.
  • TribeXR
    • Did your sister just announce her dream of becoming a DJ over the holiday dinner table? Well, now she can learn, practice, and show her commitment to the DJ craft before spending big bucks on an expensive mixer. TribeXR provides the latest professional DJ equipment, step-by-step lessons (and hire a tutor!), and livestream capabilities so you can share your set with friends. Import your favorite 90s tracks and let your Dad drop in his favorite tunes from the 70s for a truly eclectic holiday soundtrack.
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality.
Image Credit: Oculus
  • Half + Half
    • Humans are social creatures; we love to talk, play games, meet up with friends — and now we can do this all in VR too. Half + Half is a very serene and relaxing way to first experience the often-intimidating “Social VR” genre. Make new friends, play hide-and-seek and human Tetris, or gracefully race through the clouds in this soft, relaxing geometrical world.
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest
    • Website: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/2035353573194060/?locale=en_US
Image Credit: Lucas Rizzotto
  • Where Thoughts Go
    • Ready for some introspection after the craziness of the holidays? Take a moment to reconnect with yourself through the vulnerability of others in Where Thoughts Go. A beautiful journey that’s broken up into five simple—but thoughtful—questions will soften your armor and break down your defences in a truly impactful way. Listen to the responses left by others in a garden of illuminated glowing orbs, then leave behind your own experience (anonymously).
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, Valve Index.
    • Website: https://wherethoughtsgo.me/

For the Quest Seekers:

Image Credit: Polyarc
  • Moss
    • The whole family will enjoy this magical journey as they help guide the games lovable protagonist, an adorable mouse named Quill, overcome various challenges and enemies scattered throughout a fantastical forest. Together, you will solve puzzles, travel to forgotten realms, and navigate unique challenges. It’s easy to form strong bonds with Quill as you strategically guide and support the little hero throughout the journey. 
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Playstation VR, Windows Mixed Reality.
    • Website: https://www.polyarcgames.com/
Image Credit: Vertical Robot
  • Red Matter 
    • Even though this game takes place in a sci-fi, Cold War-dystopian world, all generations will enjoy this challenging journey about an astronaut exploring am mysterious facility located on one of Saturn’s moons. You’ll have to find clues, solve puzzles, open doors and decipher hidden messages as you venture deeper and deeper into the abandoned research facility. Whether it be the spooky atmosphere or satisfying puzzle mechanics, Red Matter is filled with enough mystery to keep your wondering for hours.
    • Rating: R (for intensity)
    • Available on Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest.
    • Website: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/1853479764707533
Image Credit: InnerspaceVR
  • A Fisherman’s Tale 
    • Welcome to the Fisherman’s lighthouse escape room! It’s a fun, storybook game with silly characters and unique challenges that require you to leverage the mirrored dollhouse version of yourself in the middle of the room. Unlike a traditional escape room, your team is both the smaller and larger versions of yourself. Scaling and resizing objects to solve puzzles and advance the storyline, this is a game the whole family will enjoy. 
    • Rating: PG
    • Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, Playstation VR, Windows Mixed Reality.
    • Website: http://afishermanstale-game.com/
Image Credit: Turtle Rock Studios
  • Journey of the Gods
    • In Journey of the Gods, you’ll have to sharpen your sword, shield, and crossbow skills to battle dangerous beasts in this charming VR RPG epic. Unlike the other mortals you come across in the game, you have the ability to access God mode and alter the environment around you to help solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Being powerful in this game is both masculine (medieval brute strength) and feminine (Mother Earth “God-Mode”) and feels very welcoming for new role-playing game (RPG) players. 
    • Rating: PG-13
    • Available on Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest.
    • Website: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/1853479764707533

Investment Disclosure: Maddie Callander is VP at Boost VC (www.boost.vc) which is an investor in Where Thoughts Go, Tribe XR and Beast Pets. 

Rating Disclosure: Ratings are unaccredited and based on her personal opinion. Please review follow all guidelines and ratings set by the headset manufacturer, platforms, and game developers.

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Source: VRScout