My younger brother absolutely loves roller coasters. A self-described “roller-coaster geek,” he’d often drive for hours just to test out new rides in other states. An unfortunate accident this year left him with some broken limbs and no way to safely ride. I bought him a virtual reality (VR) headset, loaded it up with some roller-coaster simulators and he nearly cried at how happy it made him.

VR can’t fully simulate what it’s like to be on a roller coaster but you’d be surprised at how close it can get. VR technology is good enough today to trick your brain into buying into a virtual, life-sized 3D environment. This used to be the stuff of science fiction, but VR is readily available today and it can be quite an amazing experience.

What You Should Know about VR Tech

VR tech generally consists of a headset that’s powered by a smartphone, a gaming console or a computer. You can watch immersive videos on the headset or use a controller to interact with your 3D environment. These can be almost anything you can imagine. Ever wanted to walk on the moon, be in the middle of a professional basketball game or look a whale in the eye underwater? You can do all of these today with VR.

Your reaction to VR may vary, but I’ve rarely seen people react to their first experience with anything but a smile. Often, it’s a big “OMG, I can’t believe it!” smile, followed by an eagerness to try it again.

How Realistic Is It, Really?

The VR experience can be special. I’m a big basketball fan and I eagerly put on my headset to watch the weekly professional basketball game broadcast in VR. Despite some hiccups, I feel like I’m in the middle of the game. I’ve watched and attended a lot of basketball games, but watching it in VR is an awesome experience that’s unlike any I’ve ever had.

It’s not all roses, though. VR tech is still early and your entertainment options are limited. There’s a pro basketball game once a week but you’re out of luck if you want to watch other major sports. Likewise, there aren’t a ton of movies, TV shows or news broadcasts that have been created to take advantage of the VR format.

On the bright side, your options for gaming are more robust. Many are casual games, but the VR headsets that come with gaming consoles already have a collection of deeper games. You can expect that catalog of “hardcore” VR games to grow over time.

Should I Buy VR Tech Today?

If you’re dying to have the next big thing before your neighbors or you absolutely love gaming, you can safely pull the trigger on buying VR tech. For the rest of you, waiting a while will give you more entertainment options and better prices for more evolved technology. Also, I should note that a small percentage of the population gets nauseated when using a VR headset. If that’s you, just stay away entirely.

When it comes to costs, you generally get what you pay for. You can get a cardboard VR viewer for your phone for as little as $15, and most mid-range VR headsets can be had for under $100. If you want to go all-in on VR tech, you can buy some headsets with room motion trackers for about $800 (this doesn’t include the cost of having a high-end PC to run games). While this is a bit pricey, the motion trackers let you physically walk through these virtual 3D spaces for a truly immersive experience.

While the pricing and lack of content means most people won’t want to dive into VR just yet, those two issues will go away with time. Eventually, the technology will become more commonplace and will potentially change the way we experience entertainment altogether.

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Written By

Stephen Bennett

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