Virtual reality came to market in a big way around 2015, Christmas that year was full of different companies selling their own version of VR and trying to get one up their competitor. It seemed like everyone was trying to incorperate it in their buisiness or technology, so much so that Facebook bought the Oculus VR project for 2 billion dollars. People saw it as the future, people were investing, 360 cameras were being created, editing software for VR was developed and everyone say it as the future. Fast forward to 2017 and many people have created VR movies, games, and pictures, all of which have more or less fell on their face and have not stayed in popularity. Whether it was the fact that you had to have a headset to enjoy this content, or you were just awkwardly holding your phone to view it and the people just didn’t seek it out.
So while people didn’t enjoy virtual reality for its entertainment purposes, the systems educational benefits were undeniable. The ability to put people into a world designed to teach them something without having to build new buildings, or infrastructure is the perfect situation to teach people things that would otherwise be difficult to teach in person.
So when it comes to education VR has a lot of potential, the way it can put someone in an environment is unparalleled, especially in places like say SPACE? Buzz Aldrin: Cycling Pathways to Mars is a new VR experience that guides you through Dr. Aldrin’s plans to go to mars. What’s amazing is he is able to put you right in the middle of places you would normally never be able to experience, like the 1st moon landing, or outside his space shuttle the cycle and without VR this would be otherwise impossible. Now while you can move around and look there isn’t much interactivity so it fits into more of a video category, but if this was created to be a pitch to say NASA or other space programs to be chosen as a plan to explore the red planet it is a very effective tool. To put all these amazing machines in front of you in excruciating detail would be a very effective way to convince someone that you have thought of all the details you could have. Here is a video with a quick play through, while not entirely long it’s very immersive and looks to show off all that VR has to offer.
VR’s ability to put you in an environment is unparalleled, and space just happens to be a perfect environment to put people into. Since only so many people in the world ever get a chance to go into space, even if you have all the money in the world it’s not easy, VR gives you the opportunity to experience places you never would have gotten a chance to see. On the same not as Buzz Aldrin’s experience there is also a game about Apollo 11 and going to the moon for the first time. Apollo 11 VR is a game on steam that puts you in the seats the astronauts sat in and lets you experience all the steps of going to the moon, from takeoff, to traveling through space, to docking, to landing on the moon. Something very few people have done, something many people still to this day don’t believe even happened (all you conspiracy theorist out there).
Both of these games attempt to educate the player by putting them in other people’s shoes and letting them experience situations first hand. Instead of reading a text book on a historical event, why not put the person in the driver seat and let them experience it. So long as the games are historically accurate, and everything is recreated correctly people have a much better chance of making those connections if they can observe in person. They always say that experience is so important when it comes to learning, well heres the experience, you are using most of your senses to learn about something.
But then there are games which take the idea of space and something that can be educational and turn them into your traditional game with a story and horror aspects as most games do.
The reason I bring this game up is not because it is educational but because it uses the same technology the last two games did but for a different reason. What is upsetting is this game, which will probably not teach anyone much has better graphics and 3D rendering then the other two games, this comes as a result as more educated designers probably worked on this game since there was a bigger budget, and that more people would play it. Also the fact that a game like this can have such a detailed and impressive environment begs to ask the question why something like this couldn’t be re-skined as an educational game about space, and physics, something a lot of games could potentially do.
There is so much potential for gamification of education out there and not enough people are taking advantage of it. The technology is out there to create amazing things and the only thing holding us back is demand from the people, because at the end of the day people want easier ways of learning, its human nature.