What is VR Gaming? What accessories are used?

VR gaming is the term used to describe a new generation of computer games that use virtual reality (VR) to give players a truly immersive, first-person perspective of game action. Participants both experience and influence the game environment through a variety of VR gaming devices and accessories, including VR headsets, sensor-equipped gloves, hand controllers and more.

Virtual reality games can be played on standalone systems, on specialized game consoles, or using advanced laptops and PCs that can power the leading VR headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Lenovo Explorer.

There are subsets of virtual reality gaming that use related technologies called augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), where virtual elements are placed into the player's real world as viewed through a headset or camera. Lenovo Explorer uses the Windows Mixed Reality platform which, though still quite VR-focused, is expected to introduce new mixed/augmented reality experiences.

Different types of VR games

There are individual virtual reality games and multi-player, online virtual reality games. Some VR games (which for purposes of this FAQ include games based on VR, AR and/or MR) place players in physical combat environments, while others involve less confrontational pursuits such as auto racing and acrobatic flying. Still other VR games challenge players -- either alone or with others -- to solve problems, move objects, or explore new places.

VR gaming laptops and VR-ready gaming towers are widely popular platforms for VR gaming. But there are different kinds of VR gaming depending on the type of computing device being used:

  • VR games on PCs and laptops:

    Games played on high-end computers provide the most detailed virtual environments and game options. Popular VR headsets for PCs and laptops in late 2018 include Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and our own Lenovo VR headset, Lenovo Explorer.
  • VR games on game consoles:

    These games are similar to those played on PCs but work only with game consoles from specific manufacturers. A leading example is the PlayStation VR headset/platform.
  • VR games on smartphones:

    For mobile VR gaming, smartphone manufacturers are introducing their own headsets, controllers and games (VR, AR and MR). One such headset/platform is the Gear VR.

There are also standalone VR products such as the Lenovo Mirage Solo that provide less detailed but still entertaining VR gaming experiences.

VR gaming accessories

The thrill of VR gaming comes from its first-person viewpoint and each player's ability to manipulate the virtual environment. Unlike regular video games where the perspective is typically from behind and/or slightly above the player's character, VR gamers often feel like they're seeing the action directly from their character's eyes.

This unique perspective and playability is primarily achieved using the advanced VR headsets or goggles that are part of nearly every VR gaming experience. For additional input and control, a variety of add-on devices may be used to translate the player's real-life movements into on-screen action.

Here are some typical VR gaming devices and peripherals:

  • VR gaming headsets and goggles:

    The most important VR gaming accessory is the one you wear on your head to immerse yourself in the game. The headsets/goggles category is expanding rapidly. Products range from high-end, motion-control VR headsets that capture and transmit your full head and eye movements to simpler VR goggles that merely display the simulated 3D game environment.
  • VR game controllers:

    A VR controller translates your physical actions into game performance. Like traditional video games, most VR games utilize some kind of hand-based controller (joystick, gamepad, or even gloves (see below)) for pointing, firing and sending commands. More advanced VR games also use a motion detector/controller to sense your real-life activities (walking, throwing, and so on) and recreate them within the game.
  • VR gaming gloves:

    Sensor-equipped VR gaming gloves have enabled a new level of detail in today's newest VR games. Whereas VR motion detectors can sense broad, whole-body movements, VR gloves enable the detection of minute hand and finger movements, allowing developers to create a new generation of VR games that ask players to pick up small items, grasp and carry objects, and so on.

We offer a full line of Lenovo gaming accessories; the ones listed here are just a few of the many on the market today. There are also specialized mice and pointing devices, steering wheels and accelerators for racing games -- even VR treadmills that sense and transmit how fast and far you're walking or running.

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