The year of VR
It's the year of VR. Oculus, Gear VR, Playstation VR, HTC Vive and others are going to change the way we play. Or will they? Well, while VR obviously has the potential to dramatically increase immersion (or create 'presence') on the one hand, it's pretty unclear to what extent games (or their designers) will be able to pick up on the new medium and its constraints on the other. Over the last ~10 years, mobile has taught us that it's by no means possible to simply port successful concepts to a new platform (just look at the tons of uninspired virtual stick games to get my point) but that it is instead necessary to create new mechanics that are optimized for a new medium. And mobile also taught us that games (resp. companies) that manage to overcome this obstacle (like, e.g., Fireproof did with 'The Room') will thrive.
Now as VR hardware is (in contrast to mobile hardware) still relatively expensive it aims (as far as games are concerned) for core gamers first of all - simply because all others will hesitate to buy it. On the other hand, the typical core gamer genres (FPS, RTS/MOBA) are almost unportable to VR (or at least don't really profit from it) and even those genres that are (like racing or flying games) will suffer from the fact that it's almost impossible to play for several hours with today's VR headsets. It's just too exhausting. So the fact that it's already hard to design good (slow paced) games for the new medium in the first place will probably be aggravated by the fact that casual players that would probably enjoy such games (like, e.g. 'escape-the-room-games') might have no VR hardware to do so.
On the other hand, the most impressive footage I have seen so far wasn't interactive/game footage anyway: 360° Movies have a steady frame rate, don't expect you to react on anything and thus provide an overall-enjoyable experience over hours. The Oculus 'Weclome to VR' trailer shows off how well VR works if you disband the problem that interaction is exhausting, user attention is hard to control and frame rate is an issue for VR and just use it to display documentary movies, AAA prerendered CGI movies or your own footage of your children or your holidays. As a consequence, I'd say, VR will change the way we watch movies long before it's going to change the way we play. For game designers this should, in my opinion at least, imply that we should first try and copy what films do (i.e., provide a passive, slow-paced experience) and then gently and patiently try and add interactivity and see how it does. Integrate 3d steroscope photos and movies in Game Engines and augment them with simple mechanics that don't waste user experience by overstraining them. See what works and what doesn't and that add some more of what works. And at all cost, avoid the virtual-stick syndrome that mobile games suffered from. Upcoming winter semester's suggested bachelor thesis topics include UX-augmentation resp. gamification (my apologies) of photospheres and stereoscope videos in Unity/Unreal, using VR for clinical studies and using Kinect to emulate head tracking for Google Cardboard devices.