Making Virtual a Reality
November 9, 2020
Virtual Reality has been a part of gaming for a long time. Despite that fact, people often don’t know much about it, which can lead to many misconceptions. I’d like to tell you a little more about VR and clear up the truth around it.
Firstly, VR is nothing new. This sort of technology dates as far back as 1959 with the Sensorama, made by Morton Heilig, but the most well known rendition within gaming and the general public is the Virtual Boy, a gaming console developed by Nintendo and released in 1995.
The Virtual Boy console used a standard controller design with a binocular-like headset that the user put their face against, often aided by a tripod which the console was mounted on. It was said to be a commercial failure with poor advertising and low sales.
Despite a rough origin in gaming, virtual reality has made many leaps and strides since then. Over the past twenty five years, it has developed into its own culture and even has applications in other fields, such as training employees or giving students up close learning experiences without needing to take them out of the classroom. Rather than looking in a text book or taking a trip across the world, you can learn from experts from the comfort of your own home, from your office, or with the class in locations that mirror the real world to give you a realistic and on-hands experience. Plenty of companies, even Walmart, incorporate Virtual Reality systems into training routines for how versatile and cost effective it is in the long run.
When it comes to gaming, VR offers an experience unlike any other. Users can experience beautiful landscapes, action packed moments, and more. Rather than being confined to a keyboard and mouse or even a controller, modern VR users can make full use of their body to take their actions into their own hands.
Games like VR Chat or Rec Room give users the ability to socialize freely with whoever they like, a great way to fill that social need in times of lockdowns and social distancing.
Games like Pavlov VR, Hotdog Horseshoes & Handgrenades, and Half Life: Alex offer users the chance to test their aim with more hands on combat than ever before. No longer are FPS games limited to the controls at hand when you are the controller. If you don’t feel like those ,though, there are plenty of other VR games out there. Beat Saber is a rhythm based game in which you slice blocks and avoid bombs to the beat of a song. Fruit Ninja VR is great for some casual fun slicing flying fruits. You can even play Settlers of Catan if you really want to. That’s not to mention ports of preexisting games like Skyrim, Fallout 4, L.A. Noire, Minecraft and many more.
One of the biggest factors driving away potential users of VR is big price tags. It’s common to hear people say, “I’d get VR if it wasn’t so expensive.” The truth is, you don’t have to drop over a thousand dollars on VR equipment. Some VR headsets are so simple that you just set your phone in and start playing.
When you want the full VR experience though, most go to PC VR. This means your VR device is connected to your computer, relying on it for everything like power, processing, storage, etc. While there are sets around $1000, you can get a PC VR setup for as little as $150.
You don’t have to worry about drilling holes into your walls as there are plenty of self tracking VR systems which require no external sensors. There are even cheaper options when it comes to name brand companies like Oculus, HTC Vive, and Valve. The cheapest by far is the Oculus Quest 2, created by Oculus who is owned by Facebook, costing only $399.
That headset is also entirely confined to itself. No need for a computer, sensors, or any other extra device. All it needs are the headset and controllers and you are set to enjoy a vast library of VR titles.
The most expensive so far is the Valve Index, a headset coming in at a solid thousand dollars, but is by far the most advanced available with a plethora of customizability and advanced features that are hard pressed to find in any other headset. VR can get expensive if you want it too, but there are always budget options for people who want to get in on the fun but don’t want to drop all that money on it.
If you are interested in VR, you should definitely check it out. If you are lost or unsure, there is a great community to pave the way for you and get you started. If you aren’t sure where to start, I would recommend watching Linus Tech Tips’ videos on VR. They’re highly informative and show how good even the cheapest of VR can do.