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What Are the Different Types of Virtual Reality Games?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

While there are many different types of virtual reality games, most of them can be categorized as either limited virtual reality (VR) experiences or simulator games. VR experiences are games in which a person wears a headset that creates an immersive experience through audio and digital displays, while using a handheld input device to play the game. These types of virtual reality games can create just about any kind of experience, from first person shooters (FPS) to racing games. Simulators, on the other hand, feature some type of enclosed environment in which a person is completely immersed within the game experience.

Virtual reality games typically refer to those in which the experience of playing a game goes beyond simply looking at a monitor or display screen and holding a controller or using a keyboard as input. These games attempt to draw the player into the game in a more immersive way and can do so through many methods. Many virtual reality games utilize a headset that someone wears, in which speakers and small displays are used to create the impression of a three-dimensional virtual space around the person.

Virtual reality games can create just about any kind of experience for the player.
Virtual reality games can create just about any kind of experience for the player.

These types of virtual reality games can take a number of different forms and have different types of controls. A FPS game made as this type of VR experience might include a headset and shoulder rest, with handles that include triggers to emulate the experience of holding or using large guns. Racing games can be made using this type of technology, allowing a person to look around and see different directions on the headset, while holding a wheel to control the game. Games can also be made using this technology to emulate various athletic or sports activities and to create interactive virtual experiences.

There are also virtual reality games designed using a simulator. These types of simulators are usually small, closed-in spaces in which a person stands or sits to play the game. Racing games, for example, can be created as simulators in which a person sits within a small closed room similar to the inside of a car, and multiple displays within the simulator are used to create the impression of a virtual space outside of the room.

Similar controls are used in these types of virtual reality games, except no headset is usually worn as the simulator creates the images around a person. This can make for a somewhat more immersive experience, since suspension of disbelief may be easier with a wider field of view. These simulators can also include motion features, in which the small room can tilt and shift in order to re-create the feeling of motion while driving, flying a plane, or riding a roller coaster.

Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - Well, there are actually real virtual reality simulators now, but they are generally pretty expensive. The main problem is the amount of power and memory that it would take to create a world that would match well with human eyes when they are able to track around 360 degrees.

And the other problem is making sure that the person isn't going to hurt themselves by running into a wall. I mean, we are nowhere near being able to solve that kind of problem in an elegant way, unfortunately, so I don't think we can look forward to a holo-deck in every house anytime soon.


@KoiwiGal - There is a really cool application I heard of recently where they will make it sound like zombies are after you so that you will run faster on your treadmill. And there are those games where you use the camera to see ghosts or whatever and shoot them down.

But I think Google Glass and maybe another couple of upcoming gadgets are going to be our best bet for real virtual reality games.


I love virtual reality games. I wish there were more of them out there. One of my favorite experiences is on the virtual reality rides at theme parks and if they came up with a way to really incorporate that kind of experience into a game that you could actually control I would throw money at them to get into it.

I do think they are on the way with the different kinds of games you can get with tablets and smart phones these days. But I am really looking forward to being able to put on some goggles and literally feel like I'm fighting zombies.

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    • Virtual reality games can create just about any kind of experience for the player.
      By: Jandrie Lombard
      Virtual reality games can create just about any kind of experience for the player.