Virtual Reality (VR) may be a catchphrase, but it can encompass many different aspects. It can be as simplified as you want it to be or as complicated. The key is to define it in a way that you understand it and in a way that meets your desires and needs when it comes to the VR experience.
The following are some common “setup” when it comes to Virtual Reality (VR) along with some introductory explanations of each of them. Please also keep in mind that there may be (and are) different vendors that handle these different environments and systems.
Video games are technically the software end of things. They are called applications or “apps” for short. Generally speaking, “apps” are the small software packages that run on smartphones while software or program files or applications are the larger counterparts that run on a computer.
The term, “video games” is a term that is general. It is a case of defining the device on which it is used.
So, for example, if it is used on a computer, it may be in the form of a DVD. The DVD is inserted into the computer by way of the DVD drive. Then, the software is installed on the computer.
It may also be software that is used on a Game System (discussed in the next section). So, the definitions crossover from system to system.
Game Systems and Personal Game Systems
Game systems and personal games systems include devices that handle games. They are generally hardware and may incorporate other devices such as remotes, gadgets, and virtual reality gear. While computers can often handle the same type of thing, with their gaming technology, game systems are specifically geared toward the games rather than a computer system (even though the game system is a computer system).
Some example of game systems may include PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Wii University, and 3DS, to name a few (even if some of them are quite old).
Computers come in all different shapes, sizes, and ages. Oftentimes, there are the desktop versions and the laptop versions (for portability). There are Windows computers, Mac (Apple) computers, and even Linux and other *nix flavors of computers. Each of these has the capability of being the component on which the virtual reality experience begins, with software, video games, etc. That software can even be downloaded/installed by way of the cloud (i.e. dropbox.com).
So, with these first three sections, we mention the video games and then the two platforms that generally run them.
Movie Box / Video / 360 / 3D / YouTube
The direct definition of Movie Box, 3D apps, etc. is a little vaguer and yet, it is easy to define. Think of it in terms of panoramic views. If you have a video which allows you the opportunity to have a 3D view of your environment, while feeling like you are a part of what you are seeing, you are experiencing virtual reality. This is usually handled by way of some sort of viewer, even if it is the inexpensive Google Cardboard version.
Some gaming systems are built with 360 degrees or 3D. The Xbox 360 is one of those. Many of these definitions somewhat crossover between each other, as far as categories. So, in the case of the Xbox 360, it is a game system, but it uses 360 technology for the games. In the same way that we mentioned video games in one section and computers in another.
Smartphones / Mobile VR
This list would not be complete without including the smartphone. That also goes for the tablet technology, as well.
Many times the apps that run on the smartphone also run on the tablet counterparts. The tricky thing is getting those tablets into the headset viewers! This is why generally speaking, it is thought to be a smartphone component. This is because the Android phone or the iOS phone, etc. is more likely to fit into the headset viewer. Then, it functions as the Virtual Reality core, for that VR experience.
Smartphones are very popular in the VR technology world because of their availability and/or their low cost. Also, one can pick up an affordable viewer and you are all set and ready for a virtual reality experience. In comparison, some of the other platforms (and corresponding software) is more expensive to compile.