Article: The Psychological Tricks of VR

Article: The Psychological Tricks of VR

A much better writer than me, explains the psychological tricks behind VR. I found it a really informative read, that explained most of the science behind VR.

My experiences with VR have been varied; some of the content is great, at times spectacular. Some of it is pretty crap. I have a Vive, which means much of my content comes from Steam. I have noticed 2 things;

  1. There are new games available every couple of days.
  2. There is not much content from well established studios; the majority seems to be coming from new or smaller studios. This is cool, but it means the games sometimes don’t have the polish you would expect when you pay for them.

Neither of these things are a bad thing, they are just something that is currently a trend.

VR as Immersive Story Telling

It is amazing how different people see the different potential in any given technology. The perspectives and approaches are so varied that you could almost mistake them for being related to something else.

One of these approaches, that has intrigued me, is the idea of creating immersive films. I came across if via an this article from the Tribeca Film Festival, which discussed how VR is changing film.

The article discussed how there are two forms of storytelling emerging using VR technology; immersive and interactive. From my perspective interactive storytelling is an extension of the existing game based storytelling that is already exists and is already moving into the VR realm. The idea of immersive storytelling has fascinated me.

Immersive storytelling has the potential to connect a reader/viewer with the story in a way that we have never been able to truly achieve before VR. The idea of truly being in a story is both appealing and frightening at the same time. I imagine that the emotional connection you will make with this form of media will be quite deep.

Defining VR for Education

In teaching, we love our technological toys. Well, in truth, we love the idea of technology, and wish we had the budgets to indulge our ideas and play with the toys available to the corporate world. Our reality is that we are limited by funding constraints and do not generally have access to newest and best tech toys. So why am I talking about VR and education you may ask? I believe that VR is going to change the face of education. Not now, but in a future that is not too distant. VR comes in a variety of forms, many of which are accessible to schools and teachers within are constraints. So onto defining VR.

The best place to start when discussing VR is to first define what VR is. VR is an acronym for virtual reality, but beyond that the definition becomes very convoluted. Some define VR as “the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds.”  Dr Brian Jackson on What is Virtual Reality? [Definition and Examples]. Others, like the Virtual Reality Society define it as something that “entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion”.  These are but two examples of definitions for VR that are out there, as many different versions are available across the web.

A few commonalities come out of the collective maelstrom though;

  1. VR uses computer technology
  2. VR immerses users in an artificial environment
  3. VR allows for users to interact with the environment

These three characteristics, in my humble opinion, are the essentials of what is virtual reality is. It is a computer generated environment that allows user to interact with it. This definition strips away many of the complexities in the debate around “what is VR”, creating a simple definition that feels more workable, especially in an educational context.