The future of VR should be exciting, not frightening

Joel Hopkins , Reporter

Technology is always moving forward with immense speed, leaving many people stuck playing a constant game of “catch-up” with the latest and greatest gear.

Recently, virtual reality (VR) devices are making a big buzz in the tech world. Making their way into the homes of gamers, and now even non-gamers, VR devices are starting to become more affordable and practical to own.

The Oculus Rift was at the forefront of the recent integration of VR into gaming, and watching demos of the product excited many for its future endeavors. It seemed almost like science fiction, to have the ability to fly planes as if you truly were in the cockpit; or to look over your shoulder to make sure the undead couldn’t sneak up on you before you whacked them.

The idea of being able to put oneself into a videogame has appealed to fans for years, but hardly any VR products have had success in the past. Headaches, eye fatigue, and nausea are just a few of the issues that have held VR back. With the news of the Rift, many thought accessible, functional VR was closer than ever. Even if it does still make some people nauseous.

The Oculus Rift is still too expensive for most people, and HTC’s Vive isn’t a whole lot cheaper. PlayStation VR will be interesting to see pan out, and in the meantime, people can buy cheaper headsets like the Gear VR for their smartphones to get their fix.

Fans like myself hope to keep seeing advancements in VR tech, but there are others who have doubts about the future of VR. I have decided that most fears regarding virtual reality can be grouped into two categories: reasonable fears, and ridiculous fears.

The reasonable skeptics believe that good VR gear will remain too expensive to get access to, and that VR headsets will never be able to overcome the issues of motion sickness, soreness, etc. Factors like these, and a few others will ultimately lead to VR’s death.

The second category includes all of the absurd things I have heard and read about some people’s take on the future of VR. There are some who fear that VR will be the next big thing, and that virtual reality will be so accessible, and so advanced, that people will have no reason to leave their virtual worlds and come back to reality.

There may be some legitimacy grounded in those fears, but even ignoring the obvious reasons why people will always need reality, comfort can be found in virtual reality’s cousin: augmented reality.

Augmented reality tech is technology that integrates itself into the real world, instead of creating an entirely new one. Chances are, you already have spent at least a few minutes with augmented reality, and you probably didn’t know it.

You may have played, or at least tried out an application on your phone this summer called Pokémon Go. This app uses GPS and your phones’ built in camera to integrate the game of Pokémon into the real world. This is a prime example of augmented reality in action. Players have to actually go outside and get moving to have success in the game, whereas previous Pokémon titles could be completed without ever leaving the couch.

The success of Pokémon Go should alleviate the fears some have of a world where everyone will live in a virtual reality. There will always be reasons to come back to real life, even if it is just to play a different video game.

Naysayers should find something else to pick on. Sure, VR technology might slow down or even disappear for a while when we get distracted by the next big thing, but I don’t think virtual reality will ever lose its appeal, especially to gamers.

As for those who are scared of what’s to come, fear not. A VR-ruled dystopia is far, far off. In the meantime, many of us will remain excited about advancements to be had in virtual reality, not afraid of them.

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