Hands-On: VR Hand Tracking's Golden Age Begins With Job Simulator

Welcome to the golden age of hand-tracked VR gaming.

Job Simulator And Vacation Simulator Arrive On Apple Vision Pro
Apple Vision Pro is now home to two of VR’s best-selling titles, Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator from Owlchemy Labs.

When it comes to 2016’s Job Simulator, whether you purchase the VR classic from Sony, Valve, Meta, or Apple, about a minute or two of contact with Owlchemy’s software teaches players the value of a simulated playground you can enjoy without consequence or discomfort. As of May 28, 2024, tens of millions of existing Quest headset buyers and anyone with an Apple Vision Pro can experience what Google’s most experienced VR developers see as the mainstream VR minimum quality bar for hand tracking interaction going forward.

Job Simulator Now Supports Hand Tracking On Quest
Job Simulator now supports hand tracking on Quest, and Vacation Simulator’s hand tracking is no longer experimental.

A few decades from now, how many people will even remember when Job Simulator still required physical controllers to play?

On Apple Vision Pro, hand tracking feels like the same Job Simulator I’ve played for years, letting me toss around objects at bots by simply releasing them from my grip in the open air. Because Vision Pro doesn’t support room-scale VR, environments are limited to the smallest possible spaces for your simulated workplaces. I also noted a few objects not releasing from my grip when I expected them to. Overall, though, the playground on Vision Pro feels good enough for Job Simulator to become the go-to VR introduction again in a new era.



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VR’s New Era

Our love of analog sticks and haptic feedback isn’t going anywhere, but our hands are with us everywhere and Job Simulator just became a way more powerful demo of virtual reality in recognizing that.

Games like Crossy Road Castle prove simple platforming concepts are possible with nothing but our hands, while Job Simulator’s embodied magic with just a Vision Pro or Quest makes a powerful statement about what a VR headset can do when it comes without controllers.

Many who’ve made, or played, VR’s best games so far might have a hard time comprehending a golden era for VR gaming only just arriving now and in the next couple years. We have to remember that the best VR headset ever made, though, is still one of the most rudimentary personal computers of this century.

Take the trends altogether of players pushing content into VR from different directions and it’s a breathtaking pace for VR advancement in a very short time.

We don’t know if Google and Meta will ever work out their differences and forge a common future for Android XR and Horizon OS, but we do know that Owlchemy is working on a multiplayer hand tracking game. Can Google take Owlchemy’s work even further with hardware or software optimized for its work in hand tracking?

We’d love to see it. For now, we’re gonna leave our controllers behind and head back into the virtual office to toss things around like the good old days.

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