What is Virtual Reality – How ‘real’ can it get?

Have you ever seen someone (most likely in a Shopping Mall) wear a bulky headset covering the eyes, a wide smile on the face and doing some strange movements that might make them look like a mad-person?

Well, the person wearing that headset is probably experiencing some awesomeness behind those glasses that we, those not in that world, are missing out on! Ofcourse it’s not a real world, it’s a virtual one, but it’s aptly called Virtual Reality (VR) since the experience is so close to real. But the real question is – what is Virtual Reality exactly, and what to expect?

The feeling that you get when you see some stunning out-of-this-world views – that’s the feeling you get in a VR experience. And it extends beyond the ‘real world’ too (it’s virtual after-all); Virtual Reality is a visual treat and somewhat comes close to the real experience.

Before you say – “how can Virtual Reality even come close to the real thing!”, be assured that I too thought the same way before I experienced VR at VR-Here, Liverpool. It’s difficult to imagine what you can experience when inside the green coloured cave with the VR headset on, but I’ll try my best to describe the best I can.

Do note, that I had experienced VR before (almost a year ago) – going on a Roller Coaster ride, and it didn’t give me the slightest thrill whatsoever. I wasn’t expecting much from this experience. I thought VR is just over-rated, but what I experienced at this VR Arcade changed my outlook for good. (A good VR Arcade anywhere in the world would possibly have a similar experience too, so you can keep reading..)

With the variety of things that I experienced I can safely say, there’s something for everyone in the world of Virtual Reality.

Underwater Virtual Reality Experience

Underwater Virtual Reality Experience

Getting ready

I was made to wear the VR Headset and was given two hand-controllers which were more like extensions of my own hands. The simple intuitive controls helped me interact with the virtual world I was then a part of.

This is all I needed, and I was ready to get into a whole new virtual world.

Stunning Beauty

My first experience was seeing the coral reef and the jelly fish. Apart from seeing spectacular visuals, I could also interact with the fishes like I could underwater. That was being ‘under the water’ in ‘daylight’. Then when the ‘night fell’, I saw glow-fishes in the dark too.

Next came the Whale Experience. I saw a big blue whale stare at me, swim right past me and then flip its whale. While I was obviously in my sense, the blue whale looked so real that the sheer size gave me an adrenaline rush. I’m not kidding!

After a little break, I took on some ‘treks’ to the Jurassic world and then amongst some beautiful tall green bamboos. Again, with the controls, I could interact and jump to different points to see the landscape from different viewpoints; I could plant trees and even change the time to dusk or make it rain at will.

Inside Sci-Fi

After experiencing the beautiful world, it was time to get into some action.

In a game called Space Pirate Trainer, I had to save myself from being attacked by various flying objects in the space. I could use the controls to switch between weapons and shields.

A game called Raw Data took me straight into a Sci-Fi movie. I was stuck in a glass room with robots attacking me from all sides. I used the different weapons equipped onto my hand-controllers to counter them and move on to different levels.

I’m no gamer by any means – games on mobiles, desktops and even gaming consoles do not interest me. But this was a different experience altogether. I was completely involved in playing these games and all I could think about was how I could attack the opponents and move on to the next levels.

 

The Lab gaming experience.

The Lab gaming experience.

Fun Time

After experiencing many single-player experiences, I called one of my friends to play some multi-player games with me.

The Wreck Room is a role-play sort of game that reminded me of the days when I used to read Noddy books. We went up to the mirror and saw our animated avatars. We then played around ping pong and frisbee. It was so much fun living a childhood dream.

Then we also played Paint Ball. It was just the two of us, but if we had more (The VR can support up to four participants), it would have been amazing!

Playing games at the Pier-head Arcade

Playing games at the Pier-head Arcade

Close-to-real

I visited the virtual Pier-head Arcade. With a lot of games around, I played my favourite one – putting the basketballs in the basket!

A bow-and-arrow game from ‘The Lab’ was more of an animated game, but I could literally feel the stretch (and the effort) as I held the arrow on the bow and released it to save my castle.

Richie’s Plank Experience – The experience started with me being in a lift that looked onto a street. I chose the Plank Experience and the lift took me to the top level of the building. I then walked up to the plank and looked down! Seeing all the traffic below me, I thought twice before stepping aside to see what it would be like to fall off a plank from a tall building.

In the next one – Freedom Locomotive VR, I could literally run at a given spot and see myself moving in different directions through the given space. I even did indoor wall-climbing; similar to what we see in real life.

Virtual Reality vs the real

Virtual Reality vs the real

Magic in your hands

This one made me feel most-powerful – giving me the power to create and move things at will. With the Leap Motion Sensor, I could create objects with just my fingers, stack them and get creative.

The objects ‘felt’ like real – behaving the way objects of that size and shape would. It’s just plain simple geometric objects, but making them rise against gravity or bringing back the gravity to action, just with hand gestures feels so powerful (and magical).

Make Note –

  1. The  VR headsets can feel a little heavy at first (especially on the cheeks). Once you get engrossed in the amazing virtual world you’re about to enter, you’d just forget about it. Do take little breaks in between whenever you feel the need.
  2. If you normally wear vision glasses, you wouldn’t need to wear them to experience VR. The VR headset can be adjusted for you to see clearly without the glasses. The softwares at the backend will also be tailored according to your height and built for a great experience.
  3. The VR world looks stunning! You wouldn’t want the experience to end. But especially if you’re new to such an experience, try and cap your experience to a maximum of one hour. Exceeding it might leave you a little more tired by the end of it. (I experienced all of this in one day and I was overwhelmed; I’d still recommend – do it in parts if you can)

More about VR-Here, Liverpool

VR-Here is located on a quiet street not too far away from the City Centre (making it affordable). You can book in for Free Taster Sessions on Sundays and you can even use the Offer Code WELCOMETOVR to get a £5 discount when you book online. Yay!!

The Virtual Reality Experience would make for an amazing experience with friends, family and even colleagues.

I hope you give VR a try (or another try, just like I did). It’s sure to be an experience you’d remember and would want to do again.

P.S. Please note that I was invited by VR-Here to experience Virtual Reality and share my experiences. However, my views remain independent and honest. I was truly amazed by what I experienced at this VR Arcade in Liverpool, and hope that you too would give it a try, wherever in the world you may be. 🙂

 

4 Comments

  1. Gaurav
    July 7, 2018 / 11:42 AM

    Oh I so want to experience Virtual Reality now. Well written!

    • July 7, 2018 / 11:45 AM

      Thank you Gaurav. I’m sure you’ll find the various VR experiences exciting enough to recommend to your friends as well 🙂

  2. July 19, 2018 / 8:15 AM

    Wow, I like that you mentioned that virtual reality headsets will be able to adjust to your vision, so you won’t need to wear glasses. This is great information for me since I have been wearing glasses since I was a kid. My boyfriend has been meaning to try this kind of activity with me, but we are still unable to because I have poor vision. So thanks a lot for the information!

    • July 19, 2018 / 2:14 PM

      Thanks Millie. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Definitely go for the experience. I’m sure you’d love it. Do let me know about your experience and have a great time 🙂

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