Why I Changed My Mind About Virtual Reality
I thought it was nothing more than a fun gimmick. I was wrong.
I was skeptical of virtual reality. For the past few years, I’ve been reading articles and watching videos about the technology as it has rapidly risen in popularity, but I wasn’t so impressed by what I saw.
VR looked fun. I’m a lifelong science-fiction reader, and it was certainly cool to see a futuristic concept that I’ve read about in books suddenly become real-world and mainstream.
But, despite my interest, I still couldn’t understand how VR would possibly live up to the hype that it’s received from its most ardent fans. Could it really revolutionize the internet? The world?
To me, VR appeared at best a fun toy or gimmick. It was a way to make video games a little more immersive or to get a 360-degree view of interesting locations.
Last month, I finally decided to stop reading about VR and actually try it out. Fortunately, the prices aren’t nearly as steep as they used to be. Initially, consumer-facing VR sets were priced at one thousand dollars or more, but over the past few years they’ve rapidly fallen in price. These days, a refurbished Quest 2 is just $250.
I had hoped that VR would be a fun way to play video games and hadn’t expected much more out of it than that. However, I’ve been completely blown away.
Surprisingly, it’s virtual table tennis which has really opened my eyes to the potential of VR. One of the very first games that I bought for my headset was Eleven, a VR table tennis simulator which is eerily real.
Playing Eleven feels almost exactly like playing table tennis in real life. You move your hands in the same way, hit the ball with the same movement, and even feel haptic feedback each time the ball hits your paddle.
As I played the game, I realized for the first time that what we learn in VR can transfer back to the real world. It’s one of those observations that might sound painfully obvious, but which I had to experience before I could really understand. By playing VR table tennis, I was improving my real table tennis game.