Shopping Season Spurs Interest In VR Gaming

Shopping Season Spurs Interest In VR Gaming
November 25, 2016

While trends may be cyclical, in technology they usually come back bigger and better. 


That's what gamers have been seeing with the re-emergence of virtual reality, a trend that was seen as the wave of the future in the '90s and has returned in several forms. 


"It's so much better than it was 20 years ago. There's a reason we're seeing it come back," Pete Bingham, a tech repairman and gaming enthusiast, said. 


In gaming this year, the hot items you're most likely to hear about are the Oculus Rift, Sony Playstation VR and the HTC Vive. They're all costly devices, but are lauded for their ability to transport gamers to a different place. 


"The possibilities for virtual reality are endless. Even in Kansas City, we're seeing companies like EON Sports use it to train athletes," Bingham said. 


The way virtual reality works is it immerses the player into a virtual space through a using a headset and motion tracking, as they navigate twists and turns with their bodies.


"You can take a game like ('Batman: Arkham VR') where you become Batman and you're able to walk and fly around Gotham with your own motions," Bingham said. 


It's a stark change from the virtual reality headsets of the '90s, which amount to the gamer staring at pixelated graphics through a set of goggles. 


"When it first showed up 20 years ago, there were movies and shows telling the public that this was something that was going to take us to another place. And when it didn't, we stopped caring," Bingham said. 


Each type of virtual reality headset has it pros and cons. The more expensive VR set-ups, like Oculus and Playstation VR, are tethered to a system, but have better refresh rates, connections and response times. Mobile VR devices like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View aren't tethered, but lack in other features. 


"It all depends on what you're looking to get out of your VR experience. If you want the tip-top stuff, you're going to be paying a bunch," Bingham said. 


It's unclear how much the trend is catching on in St. Joseph. An employee at Prolific Technologies, which specializes in computers, said while they were aware of virtual reality's comeback, they haven't been approached to help build computers compatible with PC-based VR headsets like the Vive and Rift. 


It's likely that the holiday season will set the tone for the future of virtual reality. 


"Like any gaming system, we'll see the early adopters shell out the big bucks and kind of see if this is truly viable," Bingham said. "Personally, I think once the price comes down and we get some great games and apps, it's here to stay."

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