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Virtual reality- is it all worthwhile?

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"Oculus Rifting" (CC BY 2.0) by adactio

With all the talk surrounding virtual reality and how it will take the world by storm, it is easy to get carried away and start celebrating with all the others. This is what people have been waiting for all their lives, isn't it?

It's true, VR has infinite potential, and people are going to be able to do things with it that will blow their minds. But that time hasn't come yet, and it will not arrive for a long while. The problem is, VR is still in its initial stages. There will be years of trial and error and developments before it is at a level at which people can do everything they envisage.

Think back to the earliest consoles. It all started with the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, on which players were playing simplistic games like Pong. What may have seemed revolutionary at the time is now ancient, and a million miles away from the Next Generation consoles of today. Now with game engines like Frostbite, gamers can play in landscapes that are so detailed they look like the real world.

"PONG!!" (CC BY 2.0) by Sibe Kokke

The VR of today could be compared to the Odyssey console. It is an idea that is still trying to find its feet, but could one day become something supreme.

There is also the argument that VR isn't actually needed for some things and successful games should be left as they are. Some people may view VR developments as essentially a step back in certain areas of the gaming world. Online casinos are a prime example of a flourishing industry that may not require VR representation.

Microgaming has produced a VR Roulette game in which the user can put on the VR headset and play a game of roulette in an isolated setting, like space. The game generally got good feedback from users who tested it at ICE 2016, and there is no denying that it is an original and novel idea. But is that what online casino players are seeking?

The current state of play at online casinos is that they aim to give customers a real casino experience. Vegas Casino has a live casino section that links players up to games that are taking place in a land-based casino. They can see the croupier spin the roulette wheel, and experience the buzzing atmosphere.


"Roulette table" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Lisa Brewster

Although VR Roulette would offer an interesting take on the classic game, the isolated and lonely nature of it may not be what roulette fans are really looking for.

VR Roulette may not be a popular application of VR at the moment, but hopefully it will act as a stepping stone to greater things in the future. One might imagine that it could lead to whole virtual casinos in which users can interact with one another, but something like that would undoubtedly be a long way off in the future.

As it stands, a lot of people who have been boiling over with excitement about VR could stand to face disappointment as they encounter it in its early stages. But in ten years' time, users will hopefully be able to look back and think, yes, it was worthwhile.

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column, Rory Tomlinson, Virtual Reality
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