What, When, Who and Why
Virtual Reality is a
computer generated, three dimensional environment a person experiences whilst
wearing a VR headset. There are many versions, most centered around the gaming
industry (particularly horror games). The equipment involved in VR generally
consists of a helmet with a screen inside and gloves with inbuilt sensors.
Despite its recent
creation, the concept of virtual reality dates back to the 1800s, to the very
beginning of photography. The first prototypes of VR was by the Valve
Cooperation. Valve then collaborated with HTC, which led to the Vive. The Vive
was built to focus on ‘room scale’ (environments that VR users can move around
in and interact with). Vive was released commercially in April 2016, the
PlayStation version by Sony, in October 2016.
original invention of a VR headset was by an American computer scientist, Ivan
Sutherland and his student Bob Sproull. It was very large, uncomfortable and
suspended from the ceiling. It was created in 1968 and was connected to a
computer, instead of a screen.
is little to paint light as to why
virtual reality was invented. However, it is plain to see that it was a
commercial success as Valve’s popular gaming media, Steampowered, allows gamers
to play any game with virtual reality. Even two dimensional games like
platformers such as Mario Brothers can be played in virtual reality thanks to
Valve. If only they could learn how to make a third installment to a franchise.
Key Characteristics of Virtual Reality
Most manufacturers of VR
sets would likely agree that the main factors of virtual reality are:
Believability – They
need to ensure that, despite a lot of VR being absurdly illogical, the
immersion is believable and that it makes a user feel as though they are
floating through space, or prancing with ponies. I don’t really know what
people use VR for.
Interactivity – The
main purpose of VR is that you can interact with many different environments. It’s
all well and good if it looks like Mars, but the immersion into the setting
needs to be there.
“Explorability” – Games
need to have an explorer mechanic for the majority of VR games. Paintings only
show one scene, one image but a book can explore the whole universe. The linear
pattern of books (and games) helps the immersion and exploration factors
Even though we have mentioned it like eight times, it is a key factor in any
game, especially VR games. If you think about the popularity of games like
Skyrim, Dishonored and Fallout (Basically any Bethesda game), a key concept is
the immersion and the linear sequence. Within a virtual environment, immersion
is the key to a successful game.
The Pros and Cons of Virtual Reality
Better than reality
Expensive to produce and buy
provide very fun, amazing experiences
provide users with view of worthlessness
users to interact with people globally
users can get addicted to the virtual world
multiple uses (other than gaming)
in VR is not necessarily realistic
Impact of Virtual Reality
Personally, I find that
Virtual Reality has had a large impact on current society. Many internet celebrities
like PewDiePie, JackSepticEye, Markiplier, TheSyndicateProject as well as many
others have used different forms of VR, particularly Oculus Rift. These
Youtubers have helped to popularize the use of VR, not just in gaming, but in
As previously mentioned,
Virtual Reality can be used for more than just gaming. A professor at the Stanford
University has created a video game that aims to explain ocean acidification
and generate an active response from those you play it. Renowned
environmentalist David Attenborough also created a virtual experience for the
coral reefs, which shows that the scope of virtual reality extends beyond
gaming and can have a positive impact on the world.
I find that Virtual
Reality software is a very promising technology. We are just now discovering
the use of this machinery, and how it can be used to great use. Not only has it
drastically changed the gaming scene, we can see that it can have positive
effects on the environment by spreading awareness as well as how it could help
train personnel like doctors, without the risk of using a live patient.
VR is the future.