October 20, 2021
Graphic: Man Wields Lightsabers in Virtual Reality

The Life-Changing Benefits of Virtual Reality

Have you ever wanted to wield a lightsaber, become a deep-sea diver, or discover outer space? Well with the advancements in virtual reality, these things can be done from the comfort of your own home. From getting fit, to learning about the world around us, VR is making anything possible. VR is evolving faster than ever before and is providing plenty of benefits to people around the world during this difficult time.

Fitness

By playing certain VR games, you can actually burn a fair amount of calories. There are games that are made specifically for fitness such as Fit XR and Thrill of the Fight. Both games are made for fitness purposes as they involve boxing.

In Fit XR, you use your fists to punch incoming circles to the beat of the song playing. The arrows on the circles show you which way you should punch in order to successfully hit it. This game forces you to duck and swivel around obstacles to get active. Fit XR is about $30, but it is well worth its price point.

Courtesy: British GQ

In Thrill of the Fight, you are put in a boxing ring against many different opponents. This game forces you to be strategic like an actual boxer and know when to block and when to attack. This is a very realistic boxing experience (just without the pain). Thrill of the Fight is about $10 and is worth the price if you have a good amount of space in the room you’re playing in.

Courtesy: Steam

Even though there are VR games that aren’t designed for fitness, they still provide a great workout. The best example of this is the most popular VR game of all time, Beat Saber. In Beat Saber, you dual-wield lightsabers to slice blocks and play songs. The game is a blend of Fruit Ninja, Star Wars, and the classic Guitar Hero.

Courtesy: Beat Saber Official

The game has many difficulties and can be very easy or one of the most difficult games of all time. With the ability to change song difficulty and speed, it creates a great challenge. Even though the game has an amazing original soundtrack, you can purchase DLC songs from groups like Imagine Dragons, Panic! At the Disco, and BTS. Playing songs by these popular groups encourages people to get active and play the game.

The big question is how many calories do you lose by playing VR and what does it equate to? This all depends on what game you play and how intense it is. For example, I usually play Beat Saber on Expert + difficulty on “Faster Speed”. Using my Apple Watch, I found that on average, a 30-minute session of Beat Saber equates to about a 1.8 mile walk. I also found that I typically lose about 200 calories every 30 minutes in Beat Saber. These are only my numbers, and they can be different depending on the songs you play and the modifiers you use. Overall though, Beat Saber usually provides a good workout. It’s not as good as the gym, but it is much cheaper and in my opinion, more enjoyable.

Education

Learning from home. It is a lifestyle change that we as college students have had to adapt to with everything that’s going on. According to a survey released by the Charles Koch Foundation and College Pulse, more than 90% of the students believed that online schooling is less effective and they should pay less for it.

This dislike for virtual learning goes beyond college students, but also elementary students. Elementary students typically can’t access their online classes easily. Most of the time they need help from an adult. The fact that students can’t be with friends either while learning also makes young students lose interest in their classes. The question now becomes what can we do to make students enjoy it more?

Well, here is where VR comes into play. Many of us have played at least one video game in our lives. With video game popularity on the rise with the younger generations and virtual learning becoming the primary form of education, why don’t the two join forces?

There are plenty of educational experiences in the realm of VR from science to even history. If you want to explore outer space, travel through the ocean and learn about the many creatures, or even go back in time and learn about ancient civilizations, you can do it all in VR.

To discover the stars, check out Titans of Space. Coming in at about $10, players can travel in a space pod through the galaxy learning about the many planets in our solar system and beyond. The experience allows you to even leave your vehicle and float in zero gravity. Once you pull up to a planet, you will receive information about it. You can also analyze its structure and find out where it is in space. You will go with a tour guide and learn all about what space has to offer.

Courtesy: Road to VR

Another space experience is Mission:ISS, which has players learn about NASA. Players will learn all about the inner workings of NASA spacecraft as well as how to do certain tasks that real astronauts do. The best part about this experience is that it’s free!

Courtesy: GeekWire

Want to take a deep dive into the ocean? Look no further than Ocean Rift. Ocean Rift is an experience where you will travel deep underwater to discover what lies beneath. You may encounter seals, dolphins, and even deadly sharks (don’t worry they won’t bite). When you find a creature, you will be able to pull up more factual information about them and even learn their anatomy. Ocean Rift comes in at about $10 but is worth it for a deep sea adventure!

Courtesy: Steam

If going underwater wasn’t enough, what about going back in time? In Wonders of the World, you travel back into ancient Greece and even to the building of the Taj Mahal in India. You interact with characters and complete quests to learn about the area and about the people living during that time. You can also free-roam around the area to discover for yourself everything there is in these ancient biomes. Wonders of the World is also free and definitely worth checking out.

Courtesy: ArtStation

The amount of educational experiences doesn’t stop there. From roaming with the dinosaurs, learning about the human body, and even learning a new language, VR covers multiple areas to make education more engaging and entertaining.

With everything that is going on, it has made it a challenge to do the things we normally would. Even though VR is not a permanent solution, it is still there for people to get their mind off of the real world and escape to a better land. VR technology is becoming more and more affordable everyday so be sure to check out the large array of VR headsets different companies have to offer. With the ability to help people stay active and educated, VR can be a life-changing tool for those who own it.

Michael Cook

Mike Cook is a Communication and Media student at Herkimer College and a YouTube content creator.

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