Over the last decade US, Europe and especially Southeast Asia witnessed a huge immersion in virtual worlds. More and more people nowadays are playing games. Probably in the next 25 years, this trend will successfully reverse. Not because you will spend less time gaming, but because games and virtual worlds will become much more directly related to reality.
Rumors said that there will be games in which the action is going to be influenced by what happens in reality at this very moment. There also will be games with sensors that will allow to play in the real world - a game in which as an avatar will be your dog, for example, who will care a collar, measuring how quickly the animal runs and whether waving its tail or not. So, you could participate in the game together with your real pet instead of creating similar virtual character.
Nowadays it's difficult to imagine futuristic games with more physical activity. Some of them can capture the energy, with peripherals, such as the dance mat, which actually will capture the energy of every person who is dancing on it.
There also will be more games, resolving different kind of problems. Even now there are many games in which scientists are trying to teach players of real science - how to build proteins for the treatment of cancer, for example.
One surprising trend in todays gaming is that gamers prefer - at a ratio of about three to one - to play a cooperative rather than competitive games. This is a really interesting conclusion. Just think about it. In the whole game history there was no cooperative games thus far, except the latest generation of video games. Each game which you remember - cards, chess, sports - you name it, everyone plays to win. But now we are all witnessing a growing desire for cooperation - people play games together to solve problems together while having fun.
There are also studies how games affect our mind and our cognitive abilities. And therefore, science is increasingly recommended to use games in the treatment of depression, anxiety syndrome and attention deficit. To make games that are both fun and serve a social purpose, it is not easy. There may be many innovations, of course, but the main tendency is that gaming becomes more and more integrated with society.
Ever since virtual worlds have begun to become mass mania, the media still consider them a fantasy of people who cannot live their normal life in contemporary societies. However, what could be more remote from the reality of adult men and women who imagine they are gnomes and elves which are fighting with imaginary dragons while resting in their own rooms?
It is not only fun
The truth is that today's online games are fun if they are, by all means, a kind of communication bridge. Every day, millions of people around the world meet with each other virtually. On the other hand, this feature creates new scientific and practical issues. How the use of "hero" could be distinguished from normal chat? Does it define new social norms? If everyone can choose how to look, what makes one person more attractive than the others?
For several years, psychologists and researchers of communication links keep answering questions like these. Studies have repeatedly shown that online avatars have a unique large impact on how people think and behave.
A week before the presidential election in 2004 at Stanford University was made a curious experiment. Photos of citizens were digitally combined with those of John Kerry or George Bush (75% of the parts came from politics, 25% - from an ordinary citizen). Each of the respondents was shown the certain photo, and then he had to say for whom he would vote.
In each of the situations they preferred involuntary the one in whose face the particular participant in the experiment saw his own traits. Of course, it happens unintentionally, because none of the respondents noticed the manipulation.
This shows why a virtual bin Laden, for instance, may have been useful to the "al-Qaeda" - it can be specifically built to attract a certain type of person. To do this you need only a picture of the "target" which is not so impossible because today everybody shares hundreds of photos online.
Although most VR higher-end products such as HTC Vive
appeared officially on the market today, you can find a number of alternatives, which are not only already available but also much cheaper. Perhaps most interesting of them are the so-called virtual reality goggles that do not have their own built-in screen. Instead, they rely on a compatible smartphone in combination with goggles and special software which can offer you a different kind of VR experience. Were mainly talking about two types of entertainment - passive, i.e. video clips and other simulations involving where your only role is of the observer and the active ones in which you are really in the center of the going action.
Google, which were one of the pioneers in VR technology, for example, recently offered the option of posting and viewing of 360-degree videos on their popular video sharing service YouTube
Here are several products which can help you watch VR content today:
The most simple and accessible method with which you can try unique VR capabilities of your smartphone. The product is a simple cardboard glasses with special lenses in which you can place a phone with a screen diagonal of 4 to 6 inches. Of course, to get a realistic VR illusion, you will need more VR content (video, movie, game) and special software for playback.
And after all, if you want to enjoy the virtual reality in its full splendour, you'll need a "real" VR helmet - a product made by Vive. It is really a sophisticated hi-tech product. It was developed jointly by the HTC
and it must be connected to powerful mobile or desktop computer.
However, HTC Vive
offers an impressive feature set: two high quality OLED displays with definition 2160 x 1200 pixels, 110-degree viewing angle, 90 Hertz refresh rate, two wireless controllers to manage and combined opportunities for virtual and augmented reality. The maintenance is kept by Valve, which is owner of one of the largest online stores for digital distribution of games and software Steam. This fact is a strong quality guarantee of a substantial amount of VR entertainment content. Moreover, Steam will find not only a solid section VR titles, but useful programs such as Virtual Desktop, which offers full-featured desktop in a virtual environment.