“Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment that lets you experience a different reality. A virtual reality headset fits around you head and over your eyes, and visually separates you from whatever space you’re physically occupying. Images are fed to your eyes from two small lenses.” (CNET, 2016)
The technology has been around for a while, but it has gained traction and attention because a virtual reality experience can be very immersive. Computers and headsets have improved to the point that people have a difficult time distinguishing virtual reality with actual reality. (Castaneda, 2016). It reminds me of the movie The Matrix, where the characters that are immersed in the virtual reality world don’t realize they are in a computer simulation. While using virtual reality, our bodies are receiving visual and auditory stimuli via headsets that our brains have a difficult time making the distinction between real and virtual. With this type of experience, it can enhance gamification.
When we are experiencing “flow” while playing games, we can have the same experience in virtual reality. In fact, there is a virtual reality simulation that allows students to experience a zoo. (Chifor, 2015) Students can open a gate to enter the zoo, then “walk” around and view the different animals at each paddock, and call to them by “clapping” their hands. When the animals come close, the students can make another gesture to learn more about that particular animal. The students control their actions, at their own pace, and without stress. This particular experience has great elements of gamification.
Another aspect of virtual reality that enhances gamification is creating virtual worlds. Students can use software like Blender, or Unity to create their own worlds using mathematics. (STEM Lab, 2014) Some students can spend hours at a time, losing sense of time, creating their virtual world. They also get a deeper understanding of mathematics like translations, reflections, rotations, lines, curves, equations, because they are using these elements in creating their virtual world.
Virtual reality allows people to be totally immersed in their “world”, and this element alone is great to add to gamification. Some side effects do occur. Some motion sickness was evident, which is a response to experiencing virtual reality. I have experienced a similar sickness while playing a game in a 3D world on a two-dimensional television screen, but after some time, my eyes and senses adjusted and the sickness wore off.
Chifor, Mihai; Stefanut, Teodor. (2015). Immersive Virtual Reality application using Google Cardboard and Leap Motion technologies. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://oaji.net/articles/2015/2024-1447175761.pdf
Castaneda, L.; Cechony, A.; Swanson, T. (2016). Implications of Virtual Reality in Applied Educational Settings. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://foundry10.org/dev/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Implications-of-Virtual-Reality-in-Applied-Educational-Settings.pdf
Virtual Reality: Mathematics. (2014) STEM Career Lab. [Video files]. Retrieved from http://stemcareerlab.org/
Virtual Realty 101. (2016). CNET. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/special-reports/vr101/