Virtual Reality: Gaming Future or Gaming Fail?


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Video games are not done evolving. The number of gamers worldwide is estimated at 2 billion with 35 years as the average gamer age, which means that, no matter how old you are, video games have become an accepted and integral part of 21st century lifestyle, prompted by the industry’s continuous growth in popularity and penchant for technological innovation.

LEVR Headset

"LeTv LeVR COOL1 VR Headset" by Maurizio Pesce (CC BY 2.0)

Virtual reality is now the topic on everyone's lips, the first three months of 2017 seeing about 2 million Sony VR headsets shipped worldwide, according to Reuters, their success attributed to low prices intended to boost early sales. Despite the general field’s $1.8 billion revenue in VR tech sales not quite reaching the £5 billion mark anticipated, gamers greatly appreciate the products on offer so far.

The fact that it is mostly gamers who are interested in such technology has factored into the underwhelming sales. Not everyone can see a use for it. On the other hand, mainstream gaming used to be on the sidelines, until time and gradual branching out into everyday life brought it to every electronic device available. The competition between it and virtual reality is likely to produce wonders on both sides.

Even online slot machine capabilities are being enhanced by devices such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear, providing an experience that is more interactive and immersive, development anticipated by Ottawa Life Magazine. The steady increase in the size of the online casino market, reaching $37.91bn in 2015 and forecasted to reach $59.79bn by 2020 according to Statista, demonstrates how effective these additions have been.

The progress of the live casino scene, dropping from $135 billion in 2013 to £110 billion by 2015, has proven to be a rocky ride at best. Just incorporating live dealers in online games that providers such as Betway, a business listed among others on CasinoQuest, a site that compares the leading casinos and their offerings, have already enriched, has perhaps outshone live businesses by adopting their key feature. But, if online casinos have more or less achieved a realistic experience, is Virtual Reality necessary?

Of course, it is! It is fun. And let us face it, how often does necessity outweigh desire when thinking about getting the latest, hottest tech? Sundeep Teki, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, posited in 2016 that seeking and obtaining our wants triggers the reward network of the brain, as well as the release of dopamine, which results in that warm and fuzzy feeling of completion when the weight of your very own new iPhone or VR headset presses against your hands. It is not just a matter of ownership, but societal status.

It should be said, however, that the roots of a product should not be overlooked. Online casinos are successors of live casinos. Modern video games would not have existed without the arcade or actual games that inspired them. Virtual reality? That is a fiction of the real world, one that can never replace the interactions and experiences of the life it came from. Or can it? Let us see what the gaming industry pulls out of its hat next.