For some of you reading this, virtual reality gaming is no big deal. Some of us, however, were not born all that recently, so this new virtual reality gaming phenomena is pretty fascinating.
VR, itself, is fairly new. Even the term, VR gaming, has a very short history. The earliest usage of the term, virtual reality, only goes back so far as the beginning of the last century, the early 20th. But even then, they weren't talking about the same thing we are today when we discuss it. In fact, this has generally come to mean a sensory-filled, immersive and 3D (3 dimensional) environment generated through some form of technical equipment.
You can enjoy this way of interacting with a simulated, or virtual, environment. This is accomplished through the use of a technical interface, such as your computer keyboard, mouse or even a specialized glove. Headsets, helmets, data suits, special tech-toys and even an omni-directional treadmill are also used to create as virtual a simulated environment as possible.
This means that the environment you might find yourself in could look and almost feel as real as the world you live in today. But it could, just as easily, be filled with a reality you've never faced before. Ever seen a real, living, breathing dinosaur up close? You could, in a virtual reality gaming session!
Because this technology is still so new, it still has a romanticism surrounding it. In the early 20th century, the phantasmagoria of live theater was about as virtual as it got, and even then, did not fully immerse a person in its "virtualness." It lead a person, in mind only, into other realms.
The complete immersion of VR gaming requires physical interaction, not just mental. During a virtual reality gaming session, input is sent to the player through the various devices mentioned earlier, with which the player must interact. This is the part of the phenomena that makes it interactive. In order to get through the session, you have to participate. And that's what makes it fascinating.
That you could see a dinosaur up close, or engage futuristic battle-bots or even just play tennis with Martina in your living room, through VR gaming, is evidence that we are truly entering another technological advance in our society and culture.
But we're not there yet. Of the several elements required for virtual reality gaming, sight and sound are the easiest to simulate, especially in a 3d reality. Advances are being made in other areas, as well, such as the sense of smell. The Sony Corporation has been rumoured to be working on a beaming technology that would engage the human brain in all senses, including taste. But that's pretty far off, yet.
As it stands today, the technology behind virtual reality gaming is very cost prohibitive. So, don't expect to be installing a holodeck in your house anytime soon. You will have to keep your virtual reality gaming sessions in your living room, in front of your TV or computer screen.