The tech world is one of nonstop disruptive innovation, but sometimes ideas take a long time to come to fruition. Not many realize it, but work on the development of virtual reality (VR) tech started way back in the 1950s.
By the 1990s it was being utilized in NASA and US military training, but its possibilities for gaming did not start to be explored until this century. The prototype launch of Oculus Rift thirteen years ago was a watershed in VR history.
Since then the tech has developed rapidly as a gaming tool, moving from tethered headsets such as the HTC Vive to the untethered ones of today like Mirage Solo and Oculus Go. Meanwhile bugs and glitches have been resolved and the price of the headsets has gradually come down.
This article will dig into the effect that VR has had on the gaming industry in that time.
What is Virtual Reality?
VR can be summed up as a digital world that is as three-dimensional and ‘real’ feeling as the actual, physical one. It is not difficult to see how that concept had the potential to advance the experience of gaming.
VR presented the possibility of completely disappearing into a virtual game world for the duration of the play, to the point where it temporarily replaces the actual one. Gamers were understandably excited by that prospect and the development of VR games was highly anticipated.
Which Areas of the Gaming Industry Have Been Most Impacted?
This century has seen an enormous increase in the popularity of gaming and online casinos have played a big part in that. The most iconic slot games such as the Jackpot King stable are played by millions of people and the numbers are rising all the time.
Virtual reality has hit the casino industry, in the form of games such as Apollo Slots VR and Big Spin Slots on Gear VR. They take the themes that are such a big part of the appeal of online slots and make them immersive for the player.
For instance, Big Spin Slots on Gear VR is set in a world of pirates and the VR tech lets players actually go aboard a digital pirate ship while they play. However these games are not real-money slots like those on offer at online casinos.
The next stage is for casino sites to integrate VR into their platforms so that people can play virtual reality slots for actual money. That cannot be far away now.
Fantasy and FPS Games
The other areas of the games industry that have been impacted significantly by VR are the fantasy and first-person shooter (FPS) ones. That is because those genres typically feature the complex worlds and detailed graphics that VR can bring to life particularly effectively.
Players can now enter those worlds and interact with them directly, rather than at a remove. It was the popularity of FPS games like Counter-Strike and Grand Theft Auto that first alerted developers to the potential audience for such games powered by VR.
Playing FPS games using VR means feeling like you are actually firing a gun at someone and that the guns from the other characters are really being fired at you. It can be frightening, but exhilarating for players and represents a real transformation of the gaming experience.
The Half-Life: Alyx FPS from three years ago showed players what a game of that sort powered by VR could look like and was a key moment in making the tech go mainstream.
How is VR Changing Gaming?
- Greater immersion
VR can literally take gamers into a new virtual dimension. In the past a player would shift their joystick to make the character they are playing as move within the game world. With VR they ‘become’ that character and physically move their bodies to make the character move.
- Improving physical and mental health
The fact that VR gaming requires the player to physically move within the world of the game means exercise. It is making gaming a less sedentary activity and helping gamers to burn off calories.
However the experience of entering a VR game world has also been found to have benefits to the mental health of gamers. It boosts levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which help to determine mood.
VR appears as if it will be a revolution for the games industry and it is one of several technological advances that are reshaping it. Thankfully the changes are mostly positive ones, with better games and health advantages for those playing them.
Although it has not yet become the norm within the games world, VR is heading that way. All that is needed is for the headsets to become affordable for all.