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VR has benefits not just for gamers, but for education too.

Sixty percent of Americans play video games daily, according to TechJury.com. In order to escape from the reality of quarantine, more people have turned to video games as a distraction and VR has become more popular than ever

The world of VR isn’t new to the gaming industry. It has been an ongoing concept for years, dating back to the 1800s. NASA popularized VR technology in 1989, bringing light to advancements that had never been seen before, and in 1991, SEGA introduced VR to gamers. 

JMU has also experimented with the use of VR by giving students the opportunity to practice complicated medical procedures without the risk of harming patients. During the fall semester of 2017, students worked with JMU X-Labs in order to create a VR experience that provided incoming Dukes with a tour of JMU’s campus.

Gaming companies such as Oculus and HTC have redefined gaming by allowing players to immerse themselves in the world of VR through personal headsets. VR users are able to socialize through chat rooms, create 3D art and exercise through heart-pumping gameplay. 

Users are able to push the boundaries of reality by experimenting with new abilities that wouldn’t be possible in the real world. With games like VRchat, players are able to interact with other users from around the world. Beat Saber, a popular game among users, allows the player to smash blocks to the beat of catchy songs and provides an intense workout in the process. 

VR has been implemented in many careers and hobbies. According to FDM, VR is used in military training, sports, mental health treatments, fashion and education. Once a user puts on a headset, they’re immediately transported into a virtual realm. This allows the player to have a realistic experience compared to simply staring at a TV with a gaming controller.

VR gaming can also help with overcoming phobias. Users have the choice of playing games with situations that may scare them in real life, such as swimming in deep waters, exploring in the dark and heights. VR gaming also helps with improving knowledge retention and is suitable for different learning styles

Although VR has many positive aspects, excessive use of virtual reality can cause health problems among users. When using VR, it’s common to lose spatial awareness. Users are encouraged to play in an area that’s clear of furniture and other potential obstacles. Eye strain can also be caused by excessive use, so it’s important to limit your time playing in virtual reality and to take breaks in between game sessions in order to minimize the possibility of experiencing negative health effects. 

The future of VR is uncertain. However, new advancements for it are on the horizon. TESLASUIT, a company specializing in VR gear, is creating haptic suits for VR gameplay. These suits will eventually allow users to feel aspects of VR while in-game and will increase immersion, foster 360-degree awareness and engage muscle memory.   

There are an endless amount of possibilities that users can experience and create in VR, and the boundaries of the virtual world are limitless. 

Kaylee Cox is a senior media arts and design major. Contact Kaylee at coxkm@dukes.jmu.edu.