Virtual reality seems to be dividing into two distinct categories as far as how it’s commonly discussed: video gaming, and practical usage. Indeed, there is a clear divide between the two, and while VR emerged primarily as a new form of gaming, it quickly became apparent that the tech could serve all kinds of other purposes as well, from simulating board meetings to treating anxiety, and everything in between.
To divide VR into just these two categories, however, ignores the fact that it also has plenty of fun applications aside from just gaming. To illustrate that point, we took a look at the following four examples.
1. Painting & Sculpting
The idea of artistic expression and production in VR is incredibly exciting, and it seems that we’re only just beginning to understand it. Some truly wonderful paintings have been made via programs like TiltBrush, and real sculptors are experimenting in VR now as well. Combine these steps with the fact that VR can also be connected to 3D printing devices, so that virtual art can actually be made real, and we’re essentially talking about a whole new artistic medium. It will undoubtedly be used by more and more professionals in the years to come, but it’s also a very fun opportunity for amateur artists, or those of us who would just like to play around with this or that program for fun.
2. Sporting Event Viewing
More often than not, sports fans are perfectly happy either attending an event live or watching on television. These days there are also streaming apps for lots of sports, events, and teams that make the events more accessible than ever before. However, there are certain events that just capture public attention in a different way, and we’re seeing them exploring virtual reality in exciting ways. The Super Bowl, for instance, captures astronomical viewership but is very exclusive because of ticket prices. The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s biggest prize in horse racing and a national holiday, yet not everyone can attend. The World Cup gets viewers all over the world, many of whom would do just about anything to attend. Events like these are in the early stages of making it possible for people to see the action up close through virtual reality, which could mean a lot of of fun for us all in the near future.
3. Interactive Films
VR filmmaking isn’t generating too much mainstream attention yet, but it’s certainly on its way. Consider that the Sundance Film Festival, one of the biggest and most influential in the world, already includes multiple VR cinema programs in among its “New Frontier” exhibitions. This indicates that on the artistic side of things, filmmakers are working on crafting high-quality VR experiences, which in turn means that we’re probably not far off from what’s essentially a new category of films.
4. New Sports & Activities
This is almost an extension of gaming, but too little has been said about VR’s ability to transform imagined or impossible sports or activities into ones that feel real. The example that may come to mind first is Quidditch, the fantasy sport from the Harry Potter universe, which was actually discussed in the context of VR way back in 2014! Various small groups have reportedly worked on putting together a VR Quidditch game, and this makes you wonder what else could be accomplished in a similar vein. It may be that on a tangent from regular video games we’ll eventually have a whole category of imagined sports to play in virtual reality.