15 March 2017

Virtual Reality: What it is and what it isn't

We’ve been at the forefront of VR for nearly twenty years but now that headsets are catching up with the potential opportunities and mainstream solutions such as Google Cardboard are available it’s time to set a few things straight. 

1. Augmented Reality isn’t Virtual Reality

They are two entirely different things. VR headsets immerse users in an artificial world and AR incorporates objects and environments from the real world.

2. Immersion isn’t always easy to achieve

In their paper ‘A Grounded Investigation of Game Immersion’ Emily Brown and Paul Cairns define three phases of immersion and, importantly, six barriers to entry. Each phase achieved will result in greater immersion and a better virtual reality experience.

3. Agency is important for achieving presence

Agency comes in primarily two forms: local agency and global agency and can be mapped along a scale. It is a key contributor to enabling a state of presence – the holy grail of any VR experience.

The VR Glossary Project

Our never-ending quest for knowledge about the digital world in which we operate often leads us down unexpected research paths.

One such path was the discovery of Kent Bye’s Voices of VR podcast. For anyone wanting to get their teeth into all things virtual reality, this is the perfect brain food. Kent travels to the top virtual reality gatherings around the world to gather a diverse range of VR perspectives and insights from game developers, enthusiasts and technologists. He then selflessly shares his insight with his followers in the hope of sparking conversation among the VR community.

The more we listened the more we wanted to know and the more we wanted to remember. But after listening to 100+ podcasts we quickly found that remembering all the virtual reality terminology was becoming near impossible. Was global agency better than local agency? What were the four types of presence? Why was the ‘Swayze effect’ such a bad thing?

Sadly our innate desire to CTRL-F and search for a key phrase just isn’t possible in the world of audio, so we came up with an alternative solution: The VR Glossary project.

The VR Glossary is a companion guide to the Voices of VR and a reference resource for those looking to quickly learn more about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) terminology.

It contains 50+ terms and a host of infographics to help any VR novice get their head around the Metaverse. It also continues to grow on a daily basis and encourages contribution from both the public and industry experts. The ambition is to create a VR glossary for the people, by the people. So if you think you have something you’d like to contribute then get in touch

At Brandwidth we like to share our insight. It’s in our nature. The VR Glossary is our ode to virtual reality and we hope you find it useful.