For me Virtual Reality and the use of headsets etc to create a virtual sense of being inside the video game is merely a gimmick that has no long term place in the world of video games.
That may come across as a bold statement in this age of heavy investment into these types of projects but honestly I see VR being in the same arena as 3D, a gimmick that's fun for an hour but will end up giving you a headache!
Unless someone can come up with a solution that means that after a 3 hour session you don't feel like you are going to vomit, I just can't see it practically working for the video gaming masses.
Let's take a look back over the years and see what Virtual Reality has delivered to us in the way of short lived video games entertainment.....
1957 - Morton Heilig - "Sensorama"
Yes, believe it or not Virtual Reality first hit the mainstream when the father of VR, Morton Heilig, invented the "Sensorama" simulator. It incorporated 3D images along with smells, wind and sound to build up the illusion of reality.
The simulator was made to house one to four people and was also made up of a Sensorama Motion Picture Projector and the Sensorama 3-D Motion Picture Camera.
This was Morton's most famous invention and the reason he has been branded as the "Father of Virtual Reality."
1968 - Ivan Sutherland - "TheSwordOfDamocles"
This invention by Ivan Sutherland used something termed as the Ultimate Display and was connected to a computer in order that users could see wire frame graphics of various rooms and objects.
The user was required to wear a headset that was supported from the ceiling due to it's weight and size.
It was a formidable looking piece of kit and from the pics it looks a little scary!!
1982 - TRON The Movie
This may not have been an advancement of the VR technology however, TRON did bring Virtual Reality back into the conscience of the general public with it's futuristic depiction of VR and the deadly game that ensued. It was also a cool film!
1987 - Jaron Lanier - "Virtual Reality Is Christened!"
Jaron Lanier is a gifted Computer Scientist amongst other things.
Jaron is a notable figure in the world of Virtual Reality for his work after he left Atari and became A pioneer in VR and he also popularised the use of the word Virtual Reality
Jaron left Atari in 1985 to found VPL Research, Inc who were the first company to sell VR goggles and gloves.
1991 - "Virtuality Games Machine"
In the early 90's VR was back in the headlines in a big way as Virtual Reality got everyone excited again at the thought of what was possible.....
Virtuality released some neat looking VR Arcade machines with the wrap around headsets but unfortunately they never really took off in the gaming world as much as what was first thought. It had a lot to do with the immediacy of the experience as joysticks were utilised for hand and leg movement with only the players view being controlled 1:1
1993 - SEGA Wrap Around Virtual Reality Glasses
The dudes at SEGA were on top of the video games world at this point in time and ploughed funds into Virtual Reality. The VR glasses were unveiled proudly at 1993 CES but the development of the product was halted due to the VR effect no tbeing up to the standard that the SEGA team wanted. There were also rumours of sickness and warnings from governing bodies relating to the long term use of VR equipment and it's effects on the users.
There were even games put into early development such as: (from Wikipedia)
*Nuclear Rush: A simulation in which users pilot a hovercraft in a futuristic war.
*Iron Hammer: In this helicopter simulation, gamers pilot a flying gunship a la EA's popular "Strike" series.
*Matrix Runner: This has nothing to do with The Matrix, it was reported to be a "cyberpunk" adventure game inspired by Hideo Kojima's Snatcher.
*Outlaw Racing: Road Rash meets Rock -n- Roll Racing in this vehicle racing/combat game.
Beyond this it felt like Virtual Reality went into hiding for around a decade......UNTIL
2012 - Oculus Rift Kickstarter
Oculus burst onto the scene in 2012 through their hugely successful Kickstarter Campaign.
Since then the Oculus Rift has set the internet alight with videos of Oculus being test run and various reiterations of the O.R hardware. Add to that the Facebook purchase of Oculus early this year and it would seem that Virtual Reality may have turned a corner....or has it?
The Future Of Virual Reality?
Well it's hard to foresee that Virual Reality for the Mass Market will rival the likes of Sony & Microsoft's stranglehold on the console market.
Maybe the Oculus Rift will change that opinion with affordable V.R for everyone.....but do people actually want a Virtual Reality system slap bang in the middle of discovering a new generation of Video Games hardware?
My opinion is that mass market video games realted V.R will come and go as have the many other iterations over the last 50 odd years.....
BUT the useful applications and uses of Virtual Reality may be where its future lies.
It's already been used to simulate critical situations for army personnel, Doctors, Surgeons and various other skilled professionals to prep them for certain situations in real life that require that little bit extra visual stimulation to practice effectively.
I hope I'm wrong and that Virtual Reality in video games turns out to be a revolution in the video gaming experience.....
The Last Of Us 2 Virtual Reality Edition anyone?
What's Your Thoughts On Virtual Reality?
It Would Be Interesting To See If There Is A Split In Opinion.......
Let Me Know In The Comments Section Below!