Immersion through VR: How to live your gaming reality

VR goggles
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With the spike in popularity of gaming (all platforms), gamers are constantly looking for full immersion within the games that they play. VR became an appealing platform to achieve this mingling of what’s virtual and what’s reality. Question is, how is VR being used to achieve successful immersion in gaming?

As an avid gamer and having an interest in VR technology, I’ve always been fascinated by the way the two intertwine and VR gaming is a great example of this. I will give a brief overview and introduction into what VR is and how it is used to bring our virtual worlds to life. Let's dive in!

So what is VR?

VR (Virtual Reality) is a technology that has been around for some time ever since the dawn of the “The Sword of Damocles”, the first HMD invented. VR headsets were used mainly for military, aeronautics and space simulation and training pre 2010. The basic definition of VR would be a simulation of being in a virtual space that appears to be real. Immersion means to be drawn into something so much that you lose sight of the real world and what you’re drawn to becomes your new reality (more or less).

Technology has come a long way and VR devices/headsets and libraries are improving at a rapid pace. A few popular devices to mention are the Oculus Quest 2, Valve Index, Playstation VR which are said to provide an out-of-this-world (pun intended) experience to gaming.

How does one achieve game immersion through VR?

Whilst gaming, we are naturally immersed to some extent into the world of whatever it is that we’re playing. Story rich narratives, outstanding visuals and audio, intuitive controls etc, all aim to provide gamers the feeling of belonging in that world. VR aims to amplify that feeling by submerging the user into an ocean of digitised feedback - visual and auditory stimulations, and in some cases haptic feedback - giving the user the feeling of not playing a character but rather BEING the character making the virtual world believable.

VR melds the physical with the virtual by allowing you to ‘physically’ interact with the virtual world itself. You would perform a natural action in the physical world and the same action - such as the motion of grabbing an object as opposed to a key press on a keyboard - would be performed in the virtual world. The result of this action will be sent to the user either via visual or audio (or both) feedback to the user giving the impression that they interacted with the virtual world. Having good surround sound and visuals further assist with enveloping the user in this virtual world.

But can you enhance your overall VR experience?

Yes! There are other peripherals such as the VR omni-directional treadmill “KAT VR” that takes it even further where actual movement is captured and registered within the VR environment thus adding more to the immersion by giving the user the ability to not only interact with but also exploring the virtual space by walking (fun and good exercise too!).

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Another peripheral is an AIM Controller. This is primarily used for action FPS (First-Person Shooter) VR games where the controller resembles a gun (and held as such) so that it is as if you’re really shooting your enemies whilst in your virtual world

VR controller
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Are there other uses of VR besides gaming?

Yes definitely! As mentioned earlier, VR started off as a means of providing training simulations in certain fields (military, aeronautics etc), the application has just been extended. Few examples is that we can now also use VR for design purposes such as Adobe Medium, watch movies or work with your colleagues using bigscreen, or just touring the world from the comfort of your home using Google Earth VR. There is ofcourse, other applications of VR too but I’m just mentioning a few here.

What should I look out for in a VR setup?

A few specifications I would suggest looking out for in a VR setup would be:

  • Refresh rate - This defines how fast images are shown to the user thus a higher refresh rate presents a smoother transition of frames/images.
  • Tracking accuracy - To have a fluid and fun experience, you’d want your VR setup to be able to track your movement as accurately as possible
  • Display resolution - Look for a high resolution display. The higher, the better your image quality will be.
  • FoV - Field of View. This is a measure of how much of the VR environment the user can see at any given time thus a higher value will result in better immersion

So...should I try it out?

Ofcourse! Whether you’re a gamer or just curious I’d definitely recommend trying out VR. With so much VR technology and support available these days, you will definitely find a setup that would provide you the ultimate immersive experience. Perhaps one day we will be able to enter into a fantasy world where we won’t be able to differentiate what is truly real. The blurring of virtual and physical is ever increasing and perhaps, concepts shown in The Matrix, Altered Carbon and Sword Art Online is a reality that's not too far off: Are we really living or just living in some virtual environment that we’re not aware of...this...we’ll never know, but until then, go out there and give VR a try! You won’t be disappointed!

WHO AM I

Chieh Ger
My name is Chieh. I'm a full stack developer at Techspire and an old-looking young guy who recently moved to The Netherlands from South Africa. I'd say I'm quite a chilled person and enjoy problem solving and helping people where I can. I love anything geeky tech, cryptos, anime, games, boardgames, memes etc. Outside of the technology space I enjoy hanging out with friends, having a "lekker braai" (SA term for BBQ), going for a brisk walk and, if presented with the opportunity, playing squash.

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