The 90s was an exciting time in terms of virtual reality, but it didn’t meet everyone’s expectations. There was a long road toward technology becoming the quality it is today, and VR has changed since it was first introduced to the public.
With over 20 years of VR advancements, knowing how the technology has improved allows us as players to appreciate the way VR is consumed today. So, what improvements have been made? Let’s look at four key ones.
1. VR of Today Has Higher Quality Headset Displays
Compared to the 90s, the VR headsets of today are way more equipped to handle higher-quality experiences for players. Even though the headsets looked very similar to what we know now, the 1995 Virtual Boy for example was very different in terms of the gaming experience.
The system was stereoscopic 3D, didn’t track your head movements, was limited to red and black moving images instead of color, was uncomfortable for the user, and was even criticized due to eye strain and other health concerns. Overall, it wasn’t popular despite constant price drops and marketing at Blockbuster stores. It was ultimately discontinued in 1996. Virtuality game machines had magnetic tracking with sonic sensors as well, but this isn’t as accurate as what we use today.
Now, we have had headsets such as the Oculus Quest. With display technology, the Oculus has two OLED organic lights, new and improved lenses, and vivid colors whereas the Virtual Boy only manages to mirror red LED pixels against a plain black background. The Oculus headset also has a comfortable design with a halo headband compared to the Virtual Boy, so Oculus is the winner here in terms of graphics, tracking, cameras, lasers, and everything else.
If you’re looking to try out VR headsets for the first time, check out some fun and free iPhone apps to use with a VR headset.
2. VR Nowadays Has More Advanced Motion Sensors
In early VR, there were a variety of motion sensors that impacted the gaming experience, but this was often limited in comparison to the motion sensors of today.
There was a bulky glove controller called the Power Glove, which was released in 1989 in America and Japan. It had NES controls on the forearm, numbers from 0 to 9, and a flexible motion sensor. Although it did pick up on hand and finger movements with optic sensors, it was considered uncomfortable and difficult to use.
There was also the Sega VR, developed in 1993 as an add-on for the Sega Genesis. The headset had inertial sensors and could read head movements, but this low-cost device was never released to the public. Furthermore, VPL Research invented the Datasuit, a full-body suit of sensors that picked up on the leg, arm, and trunk movement, however, VPL Research had filed for bankruptcy and handed their patents elsewhere.
Today, Virtual Reality sensors are a lot easier to use. Look at the PlayStation VR Move Motion Controllers; they are lightweight, are tracked by the PlayStation VR Camera, have easy controls mimicking the PS4 controller, and a wrist strap to avoid them slipping off. The Oculus Quest 2 controllers are another great example as they last over 60 hours before needing to replace the batteries; they’re also easier to control with rounded handles and joysticks for hand comfort. What an upgrade.
All in all, in terms of tracking position, quality, comfort, battery life, and flexibility of movement, the motion controls of today are a lot more precise. If you’re interested in giving some VR games a go, here are some of the best VR games you can play without a controller!
3. VR Games in the 2020s Are More Immersive
The quality of Virtual Reality Games has improved since the 90s releases. Virtuality games included Pacman VR, Buggy Ball, Ghost Train, Missile Command, Zone Hunter, Grid Busters, Legend Quest, and more.
These games were played on 276 x 372 screens, so players had a very blocky, non-immersive, and unrealistic gaming experience. Red Alarm for example is a 1995 shooter game, and its lack of solid 3D graphics makes for a painful experience for the eyes. No more flat gaming to disappoint!
Nowadays, VR games mirror images within the real world with crisp graphics, as well as more complex gameplay and storylines. You can now enjoy open worlds such as Resident Evil 4 VR, Skyrim VR, Subnautica VR, No Man’s Sky VR, and many more titles to choose from. 360-degree worlds, advanced hand movement, hand tracking, socializing with other people, and even virtual travel. Keeping fit is also an amazing option with VR today, with both pros and cons to VR fitness technology. No need to purchase a gym membership.
Was there a Metaverse in the 90s? Yes. It’s called There.com, which is a 3D virtual world founded in 1998 and can still be played in 2022. Members can choose an avatar, customize the avatar, interact with others and contribute to a virtual currency. Games include playing cards, driving, building homes, paintball, virtual pets, and access to interest groups such as art or business. However, this isn’t as immersive as the Metaverse we can venture into today.
Presently, the Metaverse is constantly changing and expanding to suit a range of interests. Now it is a digital world that mirrors the real world, and according to technologists, we will eventually be able to buy land and even get married through our avatars. The possibilities are endless. Have a look at why people are paying real money for virtual land. Imagine how these digital currencies are going to change the way we purchase things online in the future.
VR Technology Is Constantly Evolving
Why didn’t VR work well in the 90s? It was constantly over-hyped, too expensive, and didn’t resonate with people who used it. However, it’s important to always look back on the technological developments of the past, so those mistakes won’t be repeated.
It’s useful to pinpoint how VR has been shaped today, so we can further understand how it may influence the digital world in the near future.