Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are two similar technologies that exist in the gaming world. Both VR and AR offer a more realistic experience compared to traditional gaming, but how they do this is very different. VR relies on using fictional settings and items inside it. Whereas augmented reality makes use of the user's environment and allows made up objects to be added to it (an alien could be added to a living room, on the beach, or even in a car). Both are exciting technologies, but, are they changing the future of gaming or are they a fad?

Both technologies are limited

Thanks to virtual reality, you no longer have to wonder what it would be like to move as a favourite hero or climb Mount Everest. Using a headset you can experience things that in the past you could only have dreamt about, however, it has come at a cost. Headsets are expensive to buy, and some require a high powered PC to be connected. Something else that has been a challenge is the limited amount of games available (especially for consoles like the PlayStation 4). Since it's release over seven years ago, developers have concentrated on creating non-compatible VR games. Some gaming environments can be too costly and challenging to make into VR.

AR, on the other hand, isn't as demanding.  Mid-range mobile phones can play games and run AR applications. This has resulted in a large fan base, especially amongst younger audiences, with games like Pokémon Go and the application snap chat. But, the lack of a made-up setting can mean that gamers become too used to seeing the same thing and boredom can quickly set in.

Where have they moved into?

More recently, VR has moved into the fitness world. Treadmills have combined a gym environment. Some treadmills offer a 360-degree platform to walk or step to the side. Every part of a gaming world can be explored without the fear of moving in the wrong direction and falling. It's also opened up the doors for an audience that would otherwise have passed on playing games. AR, on the other hand, has been a focus for realistic training, like in the military and medical field, to train those who need to deal with challenging environments.

The added benefits

Both technologies are useful in battling mental health. AR and VR games can require physical and mental determination, helping to improve focus and overall mental well-being. For younger gamers, this can also help them to develop interests in traveling. Augmented reality is still early in development, but the potential is vast. One day we could see homeowners view products in their homes before making a purchase. Or those who are considering cosmetic procedures might even see a glimpse of how they look after the operation.

Are they the future?

So, are VR and AR the future of gaming? At the moment, both technologies have a long way to go before they become the main attraction to gamers. For the casual gamer, the cost of VR will put a lot of gamers off. But, as technology develops and prices drop, this can change. AR is still new to the world of gaming and will need to be refined if it is to survive. One example is that at the moment characters in AR games are very limited and can't talk to their audience. Instead, this technology might be suited better to the cosmetic and home design industries.

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