Virtual Reality in serious games: when to apply it?



We know that Virtual Reality (VR) is an incredibly fun and exciting technology. VR is mainly interesting if you want to show different dimensions of an environment that cannot be seen with your own eyes, such as the inside of the human body. Virtual Reality is also a good technology for learning skills that require high perceptual abilities.


What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality can be described as a simulated environment. In popular parlance, it is also abbreviated to VR. With a completely closed VR glasses, the environment presented to you engages your senses to make the experience real. This is due to the technology that registers the movements of your head. Together with the possibility of a 360 degrees view, that experience becomes special.

VR is already applied in countless ways. In principle, you can use Virtual Reality to simulate any environment or experience. The technique is often used for films, museums/art, and of course as a form of entertainment (for example at events and fairs).

Virtual reality is also used in the world of gaming. In fact, if you ever wore VR glasses, chances are that it was a game. Worldwide, many VR games are made for the smartphone, PC, or game consoles.

Four strong features of Virtual Reality

If we look at the advantages of using VR in a serious game, we arrive at the following strong features:

  1. VR is ‘immersive’: it places the user in a completely new environment. This immesive effect is also seen in serious gaming.
  2. VR gives a better perception of depth than 2D or even 3D games.
  3. VR is closer to the real world in terms of movement and spaciousness and is therefore more realistic, even if the game world is not necessarily realistic.
  4. Because of the better perception of depth and closeness to the real world, the actions in VR also feel more natural and intuitive.

Although VR is an incredibly fun technology, it is certainly not always necessary as part of a serious game solution. There are a number of situations in which VR can be of great added value. We will highlight and explain two of these situations (with examples!).

Acquiring Skills with Virtual Reality

A serious game without VR can often suffice to teach skills. However, there may be particular challenges where it is important to see enough depth. Think of surgeons who have to learn how to operate, in which depth plays a crucial role. By using VR, it is possible to make practice sessions so realistic that the exercise of a surgical procedure can be accurately imitated.

Knowledge transfer in specific environments

Sometimes we understand things better only when we have personally see them.. However, it is not always possible to see everything with our bare eyes. For instance, when we experience pain it is difficult to take a look inside our body to understand why there is pain. For VR, you can experience unique environments that you normally can’t see. An example is the serious game ‘Reducept‘.

An example of a serious game with VR

Reducept, winner of the World Summit Award in the ‘Health & Well Being’ category, helps patients deal with chronic pain. The game also makes patients aware of where their pain comes from. Virtual reality is the success factor of the game. In Reducept, the player moves in the world of a blood cell travelling through the body. By playing the game, patients learn more about how pain works and how they can influence their perception of pain. This leads to chronic-pain understanding and management. They learn ways to control pain (outside the game). Without VR, this solution might be a lot less effective. VR ensures that the player can actually make a realistic journey through the body.

Conclusion: Virtual Reality or not?

We know that Virtual Reality is an incredibly fun and exciting technology. Yet it is not always necessary to include VR in a serious game solution. VR is particularly interesting if one wants to show an environment that cannot be perceived with our natural sense of vision. VR is also a good technology for learning skills where a good perception of fine details is important. Of course, there are many more (undiscovered) possibilities. What if in the future we would have virtual football training from our living rooms?

Tip: also take a look at our article about virtual reality in education. This article tells you more about the advantages and challenges of using VR in education.

Tim Laning

Business developer

Do you want to know more about the possibilities of serious games? Let’s discuss what serious games can do for you.


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