Virtual reality (VR) has become the latest buzzword in the gaming sphere. While the concept has been talked about for a couple of decades, there has been limited practical utility of the technology within the gaming sphere. Some even argue that it's nothing more than a vapourware, similar to Apple's AirPower or Infinium Labs' Phantom gaming console.

However, things are about to, or rather, have changed. There have been massive technological improvements in VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and they are no longer reliant on external hardware and peripherals to function. And the best part is, there have been many games released to take advantage of this technology.

A pair of Windows Mixed Reality controllers. Image courtesy of Marco Verch, Creative Commons 2.0

What is VR gaming?

VR gaming is essentially playing games inside a simulated three-dimensional artificial environment. The games are designed to enable players to view, explore and interact with elements inside the realistically rendered environment. The superimposition of the artificial environment is achieved using devices such as VR headsets or wrap-around screens. There are also VR games which are hosted inside specially-designed VR rooms, and players are equipped with additional peripherals (such as treadmill floor and vibrations), haptic devices (like data gloves or suits) and sensory components (such as music and scents).

The human brain can be ‘fooled' into accepting this new virtual reality. When that happens, the level of immersion goes absolutely beyond the roof. Players will literally feel the sense of wonder exploring an alien landscape, the terror of armed combat, or the agony of defeat after a long campaign.

To put it simply, VR takes gaming into a whole new mind-blowing level.

Difference between VR Gaming and Augmented Reality Gaming

VR gaming should not be conflated with augmented reality (AR) gaming. While VR gaming requires headsets or specialised rooms to impose artificial environments, AR merely ‘augments' existing environments by creating a field of play using audio and visual projections. AR games are usually played on tablets, smartphones and portable consoles.

Top VR computer games of 2019

Now that VR technology has finally become mainstream, perhaps the time has come to finally get a VR headset and try a few of the games out. But which one, you say? We'll let you choose from one of the three best VR computer games of the year.