Virtual reality in the gaming industry: Current and future perspectives

Virtual reality (VR) as a technology was first employed as a tool for training and simulation among military and aviator personnel (Wiederhold & Wiederhold, 1998). It then underwent a period of development and growth to go beyond its original intention. VR entered into the domains of entertainment and gaming. 

As the gaming industry continues welcoming more innovation, VR will maintain and expand its role in the popular sector. 

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality refers to an immersive experience, in which a person encounters a lifelike, three-dimensional environment. In this setting, a person does not only see what is around. A person can both feel and interact with the surrounding.

For VR to be successful, two components are: the sense of immersion and the sense of presence.

The sense of immersion is similar to what happens when we read a book or watch a movie, and we isolate ourselves from the real-life context. On the other hand, the sense of presence refers to what we see or hear in VR. Thanks to the quality of multisensory stimulation in VR technology, the virtual world becomes nearly indistinguishable from reality. It is this perception of being physically present in a non-physical world, which makes the experience so unique.

Why is VR so popular in gaming?

The gaming industry always keeps pace with new developments that can improve user experience. It should, therefore, not be a surprise that VR proves integral in this particular sector.

With VR, the gaming industry can offer benefits such as:

  • Virtual items to play
  • A guaranteed immersive experience and extended reality, anywhere and anytime
  • The possibility to welcome players into real-time games
  • A strong appeal to both regular and occasional gaming players 

As of recently, VR headsets can offer players an even stronger, more immersive multisensory experience. These headsets include tracking technologies and hand controllers that let a person touch and trigger objects. 

The advantage of this expanded immersion is more connection. In other words, gamers from any part of the world can believe that gaming partners are within extremely close proximity. 

Finally, the cost of VR headsets makes the technology more interesting. The participation of more companies in the market have ushered in more affordable prices, and VR arcades are more common among the gaming community. In fact, new gaming centers let players fully experience VR without having to purchase a headset. 

The future of the VR gaming industry

VR gaming has come quite a way since it first gained traction in 2014. 

However, VR gaming need not stop there. This technology, within this type of use, can extend to other fields of interest to confer benefits that do not solely include the mere pleasure of playing.

For example, virtual reality games have been shown to be a successful distraction in health. Kids and adults can reduce and manage chronic pain by playing games that integrate virtual reality.

Also, VR gaming could improve learning. As teachers have different methods, students have various ways of learning. Interactive games that include virtual reality have already proven to boost learning processes.

Now, as we set our eyes on the future, the matter that piques interest is how VR gaming will find further applications in the world of psychology, medicine and education.

Yet, where demand grows, surely VR will follow suit. 

In Virtualtimes, we use VR to analyze and study the sense and structure of time, which can be distorted due to certain psychopathological conditions. Funded by the European Union, this project aims to provide individuals with opportunities to re-experience and normalize a variant and distorted sense of time. 

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