Virtual Reality: A Beginner’s Guide

Virtual reality has become a popular trend. With VR, you can have all kinds of experiences, like being at a concert without actually going to the concert or exploring distant planets without ever leaving your living room.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment that lets you experience a different reality. 

The user feels like they are in a simulated reality through images and sounds.

Virtual reality is created with a headset and sometimes handheld controllers. These can be used to interact with objects in the virtual world, like pulling levers or picking up an object. 

The headset has lenses that display two images, one for each eye, providing a 3D effect when viewed through it.

Virtual reality differs from augmented reality (AR). AR doesn’t use headsets but instead projects digital information onto real-world surroundings via glasses or contact lenses; examples include Pokémon Go and Snapchat filters that let you place virtual objects over top of your photos or videos.

What Do You Need to Experience VR?

To experience VR, you’ll need to choose a headset and acquire the computer hardware necessary to run it. 

The most popular headsets are the HTC Vive (the best overall option) and Oculus Rift. Both require computers with powerful graphics cards and lots of juice. If you’re not sure what that means, check out our guide on getting started with virtual reality.

Suppose you have a gaming console like PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. In that case, there’s also plenty of content available through those platforms—though they don’t provide exceptionally as high-quality experiences as VR headsets do.

Once your hardware is set up correctly, all that’s left is finding some cool stuff to watch! There are tons of free apps available on SteamVR; we recommend starting with Google Earth VR if it sounds interesting to you!

Headset and Controller Options

There are three main types of headsets:

  • Standalone headsets like the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Focus are entirely self-contained. 

They have all the required hardware built-in, so you don’t need to connect them to a computer or phone. The disadvantage is that they’re more expensive than other options because they don’t offer as much flexibility.

  • Mobile headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View require a compatible smartphone with their respective controllers. 

You can take these anywhere and use them with any game or app on your phone, making them great for gaming on long trips (as long as you have enough battery life). 

The significant disadvantage here is that mobile phones aren’t designed for VR games; they use slightly different chipsets than dedicated gaming hardware does, which means there can be some performance issues.

  • Tethered headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive connect directly to your computer via HDMI cable (or USB 3) instead of being powered independently by batteries inside each unit (like standalone models). 

It allows tethered devices access to higher resolutions and framerates (frames per second), which gives them better graphics and drains battery power faster—and if one thing goes wrong during gameplay, one cord gets unplugged—then everything stops working immediately!

Where Can You Get VR Experiences?

You can get VR experiences from several places. We’re going to focus on the most popular platforms for getting your hands on virtual reality content, including:

  • Steam is one of the leading online stores for games and software. It offers several titles compatible with VR devices like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Windows Mixed Reality Headsets. You can find many free or low-cost games with impressive graphics and more expensive ones (for example, Beat Saber).
  • The Oculus Store is another great place to look for VR apps and games – it only supports Oculus Rift headsets, though! If you have one, this is an excellent place to start looking at what’s available before moving onto other sites such as Steam which may not have everything but will have more choice overall.
  • Google Play Store has some great content available, too – not just apps but also video files, so if you don’t mind paying money, this could be an excellent option if there isn’t anything suitable elsewhere (or if there isn’t any free stuff).

How Does VR Work?

VR is a computer-generated simulation that allows you to look around and interact with the environment. A VR headset is worn on the user’s head, which tracks their movements and then adjusts the simulation accordingly. 

Most VR headsets require a powerful computer to run; however, some are standalone devices (like smartphones) that don’t need external computers. Most modern VR hardware also requires a high-speed internet connection to load content in real-time.

VR can be viewed on multiple devices (such as mobile phones, desktop PCs, or gaming consoles); however, the most common way to experience it is through headsets like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. 

These headsets have built-in lenses that display images for each eye separately, giving you an immersive 3D effect when looking around objects in your surroundings.

How Does VR Affect My Eyes?

VR is not expected to cause any problems for the eyes. Multiple studies have shown that it does not have any adverse effects on vision or the eyes’ health.

However, some people do find VR headsets more uncomfortable than others. It can be due to several factors:

  • The user’s comfort level with technology in general.
  • The physical characteristics of their face—if they have a small nose and chin, for example, make it difficult for them to position their face properly inside a headset without feeling claustrophobic or lightheaded afterward.
  • Something wrong with your eyesight makes you more susceptible than others (i.e., astigmatism).

What Kind of Computer Hardware is Required?

The computer hardware requirements for VR gaming are pretty steep. It is significant because VR games are so graphically demanding. They must also be able to handle some of the additional processing that comes with running your entire game in a separate window.

  • High-end GPU (graphics card)
  • CPU (processor)
  • RAM (memory) It’s worth noting that RAM isn’t as important as it used to be since newer operating systems and graphics cards can use their memory resources instead of relying on the PC’s RAM pool. However, if you want to squeeze out every last ounce of performance from your machine, more RAM may help.
  • Hard drive or solid-state drive – These days, you’ll find SSDs in most desktop computers and laptops; they’re generally faster than HDDs and don’t have moving parts (so they’re more durable). The main downside is that they cost more per gigabyte than HDDs, so if you’re trying to save money, there’s no point buying an SSD over an HDD unless you need blazing speeds or want extra durability.

Virtual Reality Lets You Step into a 3-Dimensional World!

Virtual reality is a technology that lets you step into a three-dimensional world. It’s different from 3D movies because you don’t need to wear 3D glasses or special glasses when using virtual reality. 

You also don’t need to watch it on your TV screen. Virtual reality uses headsets with screens, like the Oculus Rift shown above. 

The headsets use screens, speakers, and sensors to create an experience where you can feel like you are part of the action—like being on stage with your favorite band or right in front of a shark as it swims by you!

Virtual reality differs from augmented reality (AR), which combines digital images with real-life through devices like Google Glasses and Microsoft HoloLens. Augmented Reality apps let people see virtual things superimposed over their view of our physical world.

For example, if someone was playing Pokémon GO on their smartphone while walking around town, they could look down at their phone screen and see Pokémon characters popping up everywhere!


Until now, VR has primarily been the domain of professional animators and designers, but thanks to recent advances in computing capabilities and hardware design, virtual reality is now accessible to the average consumer. 

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