[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nyone who has live through the 90s might have some pretty terrible experiences with virtual reality. Movies like “The Lawnmower Man” utterly glorified the idea of using technology to generate 3D spaces that exist only in computers. But if that space looked anything like the 1992 movie, users might have been subjected to an ugly broken world filled with primitive 3D objects that looked silly at best.
However, 23 years later, the technology has resurfaced, but no longer the clunky or ridiculous form it once took. The new face of virtual reality is sleek, functional and just might be your new favorite way to play video games.
Virtual reality (or VR) has existed for decades, but only recently has computing been able to finally make the old idea actually work. A user puts on a headset that has two LCD screens inside, one for each eye. This creates the illusion of depth, which is augmented by the headset’s ability to track movement. Users are freely able to turn their head to observe their surroundings.
VR makes video games that may be antiquated seem remarkably fresh. Regardless of graphic quality, even your favorite classics (Halo, Half-Life 2) take on a new experience when you are present in a three-dimensional space.
It’s one thing to control the cockpit of a spaceship through a 2D display. It’s an entirely new world when you can perceive how far away those controls are away from you. Anyone who tries it can agree: It’s absolutely mind blowing.
Several huge companies have already started developing for the technology. Facebook acquired company Oculus VR for $2 billion in an effort to diversify their company. Gaming companies such as Valve and Sony’s PlayStation division already have working units. Even Google is getting into the game; anyone that owns a higher end Android phone (Nexus 4 and 5, Galaxy S4 and S5) can toy around VR by inserting their phone into a cardboard display.
Consumers are going to be able to start experiencing VR on a large scale during the 2015 holiday season. It’s not for everyone. The cheapest of the headsets are expected to cost over $300. That makes VR a pricey investment, especially since powerful gaming machines are needed to have a smooth experience.
However, consumers willing to drop some extra coin on a headset will be able to do so very soon. And when that happens, gamers will be able to enter a whole new way of experiencing their games.
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