The principle of virtual reality is simple enough – to put on a pair of goggles and headphones that will convincingly re-create the sensation of being immersed in a 3D world.
But however simple it may be, it’s certainly been a long time coming. One could argue that the journey to where we are today began as long ago as 1838 when Charles Wheatstone first started experimenting with how to create stereoscopic images. But it wasn’t until 130 years later that the first recognisable VR headsets were first used and until the 1990s that the first VR consoles came on the market – and failed.
This was due to the poor quality of the images that they could produce and it’s only now that we seem to have reached a point where the technology’s widely available to create realistic scenes and the price of the hardware is starting to become more affordable.
This is a breakthrough that the gaming industry has been anticipating almost as keenly as gamers themselves. So each month more and more games are coming on to the market exploiting the new tech. Among console games ones that have been especially well received have included Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and The Climb because both use truly immersive environments which, in the case of the former, is very scary and, for the latter, features stunning and very lifelike scenery.
Mobile VR gaming’s not very far behind either and the amazing value Google Cardboard headset makes it even more affordable too. Standout games include Galaxy VR, a standard space shooter and BAMF which places you in super colourful world where your task is to explore and collect crystals.
Most observers agree that VR gaming has achieved, or is very close to achieving, critical mass and will soon be extending into even broader areas too. One that is attracting particular attention at the moment is the world of online gaming. Online casinos have already started to introduce so-called “live“ casinos where dealers play in real-time and the next logical step could be to introduce the virtual version too. People are particularly excited about the potential this has for poker where tournaments could be held featuring players from all round the world but who never actually meet.
Naturally, the future of VR will very much hinge on the speed with which the technology needed comes down in price but signs are very positive. It’s also certain that the games developers themselves will be rising to the challenge of creating ever more immersive experiences.
As for its broader outlook, this is almost unlimited with everyone from travel companies looking to bring brochures alive to recruitment companies wanting to hold virtual interviews being interested in its potential.
What do you think about VR? Is it here to stay or just a dying fad?