Students explore the upcoming technology virtual reality.
BY GRETA MILLER, ’23 AND GRACIE HELFRICH ’23. PHOTO BY BELLA VANMETER, ‘22.
One moment, junior Lance Thrush is in his living room, and the next, he is in a ninja warrior world.
With just goggles and a pair of controllers, it is possible to transform into a different character and see a new world. The shift in reality is made possible through a technology called virtual reality (VR). VR uses cutting-edge graphics to create a computer-simulated experience where one is fully engaged in realistic 3D worlds. VR’s popularity has increased rapidly within the past few months, pushing a number of VR companies, such as Oculus, to the top. Oculus is soon to be renamed Meta Quest as its owner, Meta (formerly Facebook), continues its rebranding. With the rising popularity, many UAHS students have studied the topic or have taken up VR gaming as a hobby.
Thrush received his Oculus device for Christmas last year and has used it frequently.
“The first time I did it, I was like, ‘Wow, this is sick,’” Thrush said. “It’s very responsive, and it’s not just working—it’s working really well. It’s really cool.”
The types of “realities” that one can experience are wide-ranging. Working out, simulating jobs, walking through an art museum and conducting espionage are just a few.
Senior Greyson Fowler also frequently uses an Oculus device. “I guess my favorite game currently would be ‘I Expect You to Die 2’ which is kind of like an escape room, but you’re playing as a spy—James Bond style,” Fowler said. “It also has really good graphics.”
Senior Dylan Trent also uses a VR device. However, he uses one called HTC—a competitor of Oculus.
“My favorite thing about VR in general is the total immersion you can get with the game that you’re playing,” he said. “You are standing in a room, and you can interact with everything around you.”
Trent participates in many of the immersive games offered through his virtual reality device.
“I would have to say my favorite game is currently ‘Job Simulator,’ which honestly doesn’t sound like it should be my favorite, but it is a fun game where you just simulate doing jobs; that’s the best way to put it,” Trent said.
Fowler and Trent both enjoy the fact that each VR game comes with its own experience; however, they do see a downside regarding the size and price of many of the devices.
“It is a bit clunky still. It’s like holding up a pair of huge binoculars to your face which kind of wears down on the neck. It’s kind of heavy,” Trent said.
This technology is currently pricy, with a standard unit costing $300—a similar price to other gaming systems. However, that is expected to change as Fowler added that technology gets cheaper over time.
Of course, given how realistic the graphics and mobility of the devices are, users may experience a downside to those features as well.
“My least favorite thing [about VR] would probably be the motion sickness. The first time I got [Oculus], I was probably in there for like 4 hours a day for like 3 or 4 days,” Thrush said. “It hurts your head, and I had to sit down in between games. It was bad, so I took a break from it for a while.”
A downside of virtual reality is it can disconnect the user from the real world. However, virtual reality can help solve real-world issues and improve education. For example, a heart surgeon could potentially conduct a practice simulation of a surgery before they actually do it, so they know what to look for in the future.
Virtual reality offers an opportunity to experience things that otherwise may not be possible. For those who choose to participate in the virtual world, the possibilities are endless.