Virtual Reality or VR already has a huge number of applications in entertainment and other industries, the technology has the power to completely immerse its users within new worlds or transport themselves to familiar digitally recreated spaces. The virtual reality entertainment market was valued at $11.5 billion US dollars in 2019 and is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 30 percent between now and 2027.
When the technology was first invented, its use was restricted to researchers such as those at NASA and some government agencies. While there was some scepticism at first, companies like Oculus helped to bring VR into the mainstream with their headsets.
A number of other top tech developers have since invested in the R&D needed to develop their one VR software and hardware.
Sectors within the entertainment world have seen this as an opportunity to create new experiences for their users and as the technology develops further they continue to innovate and adapt.
Virtual reality in gaming
Gaming was one of the first industries to embrace VR, the tech has allowed developers to create gaming experiences they could only have dreamed of a couple of decades ago. Some of the top VR games on the market include No Man’s Sky VR, Resident Evil 4 VR and Skyrim VR.
Although this genre has been the focus for VR developers, not all games are action or first-person shooters. There are games suitable for different types of audiences, such as the relaxing cooking simulator Lost Recipes and sports title Walkabout Mini Golf.
A new type of gaming experience currently emerging is virtual reality online casinos. Games of poker, blackjack and roulette have long been popular both online and offline and VR is allowing gaming companies to combine the two.
In a VR casino, the player can walk around the virtual venue, walk up to table games and interact with other live players. It brings together the convenience and comfort of playing from home with the social aspect and excitement of in-person gaming that many casino gamers crave.
The metaverse is where we can see VR developing further, platforms like REALM and Netvrk are being developed with VR in mind and combine VR with other tech innovations like NFTs. In the future, we can predict players will have even more autonomy in creating their own virtual worlds and digital assets, putting more of the power in their hands.
Virtual reality and cultural attractions
From museum exhibits to theme parks, virtual reality is now used to enhance visitor experience at a huge number of attractions around the world, including at London’s National Gallery and Rome’s Vatican Museum.
More recently, there has been increased effort in creating completely virtual experiences. The Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA) became public in 2020 and brings together a collection of art and exhibits from different locations.
Another way it is used is as an educational tool with visualisation being a great way to teach new things, it is one way NASA is able to teach young learners about advanced scientific concepts.
There are also a growing number of theme parks that use virtual reality headsets to add another dimension to their roller coasters and other rides. The ride Galactica at Alton Towers in the United Kingdom was one of the first in 2016, this space themed ride transports guests through different galaxies with Samsung Gear VR headsets.
However, as more people look for at-home entertainment and experiences, the focus in the years ahead will be on creating completely virtual attractions, including museums, art exhibits, music concerts and observatories, that users can access from their VR headsets at home.
Virtual reality in cinema
The world of cinema is also beginning to embrace virtual reality. The sundance festival in 2022 even invited guests to a virtual reality experience.
VR films give audiences more direct access to the characters, objects and locations that feature in the film. One idea being explored is giving the audience the opportunity to experience the film from the perspective of a character of their choosing.
These types of films are incredibly expensive to put together, which is why the VR films already produced have short running times. However, wth backing and investment from Hollywood, VR films could one day replace IMAX and 3D in cinemas.
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