Some time around the middle of the 1990s, there was a widely held belief that the future of video gaming was the Virtual Reality headset. In the future, we were assured, there would be a lot less watching a screen while playing with a video game controller which made things happen about ten feet from your face.
No, you would play games that happened right in front of your eyes, and it would be like you were really there. It seemed quite a seductive idea, and it was quite an innovation, but it’s safe to say you don’t know many people who own one.
Virtual Reality headsets are still very much in use, but in a gaming scenario they really never took off. Mostly it was to do with the difficulty of writing a good game for them – all you could really do was stand in place, walk around a little and then wait for the headset to catch up with you.
They work a lot better in a setting where the surroundings are more fixed and sedate, and they have become quite useful in a scientific application, but for the time being it seems settled that video games will mostly be played on screens.
The idea of being in a more “participatory” game has become more realistic, with gamers enjoying driving games that make use of pedals and steering wheels, golfing games with realistic putting and driving strokes, and other similar ideas. Maybe Virtual Reality will have its day, but the present seems to be far more devoted to other innovations.