Virtual reality is now a reality

Chris Poulos, owner of CaddyShanks, watches a video on the Oculus Rift. A giant robot is getting ready to attack him.

This may not be the world of Tron, but 2016 has been the year of virtual worlds as several companies have finally released their virtual reality headsets.

Facebook released its virtual reality headset Oculus Rift earlier this year. It was soon followed by video game developer Valve releasing its own headset, Vive. Neither have penetrated the mainstream gaming market yet, but this hasn’t stopped companies from turning virtual reality into a business.

Chris Poulos, owner of the CaddyShanks franchise, has turned virtual reality into a feature of CaddyShanks and said it has helped his business.

“I think it has [helped] because we do a lot of functions here,” Poulos said. “This gives parties things to do besides your traditional pool and ping pong and things like that. We are the only sports bar in the United States that has virtual reality.”

Poulos said that CaddyShanks has both an Oculus Rift and Vive for people to play.

CaddyShanks is a bar chain with one location being directly in front of the University of Central Florida on North Alafaya Trail. UCF students often go to it.

Sony’s own virtual reality headset, the PlayStation VR, released on Oct. 13 and was an instant success as GameStop soon sold out of its stock after launch.

One UCF student said the success of the PlayStation VR was due to name brand.

“I think PlayStation VR had the benefit of having PlayStation’s name brand behind it because there’s a certain level of quality to be expected, while Oculus... was sort of freelanced,” said Anthony Jackson, junior computer science major and member of UCF’s Gaming Knights.

The Oculus Rift was originally a crowdsourced project on Kickstarter before being bought by Facebook.

Nick Powell, junior web design major and another member of Gaming Knights, said the PlayStation VR’s success was due to its price. While the Oculus Rift is about $600 and Vive is about $800, the PlayStation VR is $400.

Jackson said he doesn’t think that virtual reality will replace traditional gaming with a controller, but he thinks virtual reality gaming and traditional gaming can still coexist together. He said virtual reality still needs to be even cheaper before it reaches a mainstream market though and he said that the price tag forces virtual reality to remain a niche for now.

Powell doesn’t think virtual reality will be the future of gaming either. He said it will still have a place, but people will still want traditional gaming.

“I would say that it has a pretty bright future ahead of it,” Powell said. “I wouldn’t say it would be the definite future because there’s always going to be nostalgia factor. You’re always going to want to kick back, sit on your couch and pick up a controller and just play.”

Powell said he understands why the price of virtual reality is currently expensive. It is still a new technology on the market.

Bobby Newmark, senior computer science major and president of Gaming Knights, acknowledged the previous points, but had a different view of how the technology might affect the industry.

“I think it will be in the future of gaming,” Newmark said. “I don’t think it will be be-all end-all future. I think it has its place, but I can’t imagine a world where it’s only VR, especially in the state that it’s in where people can only play it for like an hour at a time before getting eye strain or anything like that.”

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