As far back as the late 40’s video games have existed, albeit not in the same form as they do today, with probably one of the most iconic early videos games ‘Pong’ releasing in 1972.
Since then video games have progressed in leaps and bounds, from the arcade cabinet classics such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong fondly remembered by those older than myself to the 8-bit staples on the SG-1000 or the NES to the fully 3D models many are familiar with today.
However only the software but also the hardware has progressed to allow video games to become the varied form of media that they are today, but even as the types, genres and even uses of video games shift one of the key factors seems to remain present and that’s how immerse the product becomes, and whilst various factors come into play regarding a games level of immersion a large aspect of it is the reality of it all and how it’s reflected in the game world.
One particularly hot topic in regards to how reality plays a part in video games as of late is creating a whole new virtual one, not just staring at the world on a screen but one that the player can feel involved in and interact with. That is virtual reality.
With the idea of a virtual reality being tossed about maybe some people might think of something like the movie ”Tron’ in which the protagonist is digitized and quite literally placed in a cyberspace. And whilst this might seem like a cool idea, it’s not really what virtual reality is about.
But then what exactly is virtual reality, those not familiar may find yourselves asking maybe even those who are. Well virtual reality or VR for short, is a form of computer technology that recreates an environment and presents it to the user in a way that he/she feel a physical presence and interactivity with it. So in essence the idea is to use computer software to make a world in which the user feels is real, it’s basically the pinnacle of immersion.
So what is it exactly that makes this feel real and what is even making this possible? Well there’s nothing like holograms projecting large landscapes for the user to interact with, what’s considered virtual reality at the moment are various models of VR headsets, basically like a large pair of goggles with little screens built in.
But then you might be asking what’s the difference between VR and sitting in front of a monitor? Well built into each headset are a series gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers, which allow camera motions in game to follow the users head movements, that is if you look down in the direction of your feet so does your character pretty neat huh? Well yes and no, so far a major handicap in the current tech is that it still results in a number of users feeling dizzy or woozy after use , something which early attempts at VR headsets suffered heavily from. Another area in question is that scientists aren’t entirely sure exactly on the effects VR has on the brain and possible long term outcomes that this could lead to.
Even in this rather rudimentary form virtual reality has been receiving interest the world over, and as the technology continues to progress various aspects of reality will continually come to light.