Virtual Reality

A New World of Entertainment

Alice Cai, Editor

Virtual Reality (VR) has been a topic of hot discussion and controversy for almost as long as the idea itself has been around. Countless books, films, articles, and more explore the dilemmas it may bring people into and the effects it may have on the future world. This generation will be the first to experience first-hand VR in many fields, the most celebrated amongst high school students being in entertainment. One of the most versatile technologies of the 21st century, VR could potentially revolutionize the video game, cinematic, and theme park industries.

VR at its roots is a method of immersion–starting off with senses like sight and sound, but eventually a complete immersion of all five senses. Video games depend on this factor of immersion–the point is for the player to be in the shoes of the on-screen avatar, to experience something that they may not be able to on a daily basis.

“I think VR video games are going to take over the video game industry because they are far more interactive,” freshman Kash Caahoon said.

Several of the most popular video games of 2017 are extending their horizons into a VR experience. The VR Doom allows players to take on the role of a cybernetic survivor who is activated to fight a demon invasion on Mars and is coming out on December 1, 2017. Fallout 4 VR, a popular game that takes the player through a post-world-war journey of fighting for survival and rebuilding the world from a wasteland, comes out December 12, 2017. Skyrim VR, the extension of another well-known game that gives the player the opportunity to explore an epic fantasy world while battling the dragon prophesied to destroy the world, comes out in November of 2017.

For video games like Doom and Fallout 4, however, VR may present some problems. Because these games are intense on shooting and killing, a VR experience could worsen the psychological effects on younger children.

“I think VR would be good for calmer games where you don’t do much fighting, but for more violent games, it might be bad because it might make kids too scared,” freshman Jonathan Laury said.

Film, another form of media that builds on audience immersion, has tested its waters in VR. Although no movies are currently available to watch in VR, many influential films have been made. Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness, a short and powerful project based off of the famous 2016 movie, Notes on Blindness, follows the story of a man who went blind just before the birth of his son, and his journey of healing and rediscovery. Another VR short film, Bear 71, allows the viewer to experience life from a bear’s perspective, featuring her interactions with her cubs, other animals, and more. The uniqueness of the film stems from it taking the audience through the full visual and audio experience of another animal. Draw Me Close, directed by Jordan Tannahill, is a vivid memoir of a 5-year-old boy’s experience with his cancer-terminal mother. Presented in an illustrated form, the film shows the potential of VR in expanding and reconstructing our perception of reality in creative ways.

“If people feel like they are actually in the movies, then they will be able to interact more with the plot and better understand the characters. I think people would enjoy doing it more than just watching it.” Grisham said.

When it comes to VR’s application in theme parks, an experience in reality (rides/other), are enhanced with augmented reality technology. For example, a shaky ride could be augmented to look and sound like a crashing airplane, or a steep roller-coaster could be augmented to look like a waterfall. The possibilities are endless with augmented reality, and can significantly increase the appeal of the rides and tourist engagement. The first VR enhanced attraction park, SoReal, opened in spring 2017, in Beijing, China. It features a variety of VR experiences, including a walkthrough shooting game against monsters and aliens. The company hopes to become the Universal Studios of China. Another company dedicated toward AR (augmented reality)/VR rides and experiences, The Void, is working on the development of a variety of VR experiences, ranging from adventure rides to dimension exploration.

With VR making its way into the mainstream entertainment market, this generation of high school students may find themselves with a significant upgrade in entertainment choices and experience quality.

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