When most of us think about virtual reality, our mind usually defers to work-based activities. Several companies have already instituted virtual reality training to help their staff get better at what they do. However, VR goes a lot deeper than that. In recent months, many of us have been isolated from our friends and families. Lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders have taken their toll on our private lives. The American Psychological Association (APA) mentions that extended isolation can hurt individuals’ mental health. Skype and Zoom only go so far towards hanging out with your friends, however. To really feel like you’re in a room with them requires virtual reality.
Commercial VR Entertainment Options
Since VR became an entertainment technology, several companies have put out hardware that could get you into the midst of a fantasy setting. PC Mag even has a list of the most common VR hardware along with the costs and drawbacks each one has. Personally, I’ve benefitted from VR much more than you’d think. It’s been a real whirlwind exploring all the new tech that VR works with and how it can change how I see the world around me. To avoid my isolation, I found several ways to use my VR headset to get more out of life.
Several states still have hard lockdown orders, with only essential personnel able to go outside. While you might not be able to go outside physically, you can still experience the outside world from the inside of your house through VR technology. VR apps can help you experience the sights of some of the most famous places in the world, like Machu Pichu or even Mars, from the eyes of the Curiosity rover. Sure, you won’t feel the breeze on your face and can’t smell what’s going on there, but it’s better than being cooped up at home with nothing to do.
VR tourism apps have actually taken off, with virtual tours of some of the world’s most famous landmarks and museums or even a hyperbaric chambers for sale. If you’re warty about spending more money after forking out for a VR headset, you’ll still have Google Earth, which offers recorded videos of some landmarks. It’s nowhere near as enthralling as taking a guided tour through The Louvre, but it’s still pretty impressive. And if you just want to experience something thrilling, YouTube has a series of 360-degree videos. Go on an amusement park thrill ride or enjoy the feeling of exploring a new locale. VR hasn’t advanced to the point that it can replace a real-life experience, but it’s pretty good for what it does.
A lot of traditional gamers are getting fit through their VR games as well. Games like Superhot are already amazing from an artistic standpoint, but they require you to get up and move to get things done. Beat Saber is another brilliant game that outfits you with two lightsabers as you take on all comers. Pistolwhip trades your lightsabers for a pair of handguns, John Wick style. Each of these requires your body to move for you to accomplish anything in-game. If you’re someone who’s wondering how to get their workout during this pandemic, VR gaming might just be what you’re looking for.
There are even specific training apps that take advantage of weight and resistance to help build muscle. Black Box VR gives you guided workouts that have you strapping weights to your body to add resistance training to your activity. You need to be careful though, throwing a punch with the weight attached and hitting something could destroy either the object or your hand. When you look at what’s available, any of these games could be turned into an exercise workout with the right weight and resistance added.
The world is obsessed with social distancing now, and you can’t even invite your friends over to enjoy board games. Luckily, there are simulations available that can help you keep connected to those whose company you enjoy. I’ve found that Tabletop Simulator works well for a wide range of boardgames. The joy of actually sitting at a table and moving the pieces is fantastic, and since it’s all virtual, there’s no need to set up a board. What’s more, if you lose, you can flip the table without ruining your friendship and losing the pieces. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!
Multiple Ways to Experience Life
2020 has been one of the worst years ever for anyone who enjoys living life to the fullest. If you’re a traveler, you’re stuck at home. If you’re a social person, you’re missing out on the interactions with your friends and family. VR isn’t a perfect solution since it is still very much in its early days as an entertainment medium. However, it is one of the best solutions we currently have. I’ll be forever grateful to this innovation since it’s what’s been keeping me sane and helped me to retain a bit of my social skills through the pandemic.