Virtual reality gaming has been the ultimate goal of software companies since the day they were conceived. We have watched countless movies on the subject, but where are these ultimate gaming machines? Well…sadly, we don't have them yet. There are machines that trick your senses with goggles, but there are no virtual environments like the matrix, and there won't be anything like that for many, many years. But what about the people who just can't wait for a true virtual environment, there are some alternatives.
A company by the name of NCSA (The National for Supercomputing Applications) has a room called, "The Cave". There are just a few of these facilities like this in the world, and most of them are used for scientific simulations and such. We have known that scientists have practiced heart surgery in a pseudo-virtual environment, and students have studied anatomy the same way, but what if you could play Quake2 in this "Cave"? Paul Rajlich asked this very same question. He is a programmer for NCSA and usually deals with scientific data, but on his free time likes to play Quake2. Using his extensive programming skills for the cave, Paul designed a virtual Quake. To play this, you need a cave and a pair of shutter 3d glasses. In his spare time, Paul completely re-wrote the entire code of Quake2.
The picture above is of Virtual Quake, and as you can see this person is acting as if he is holding the sprite of his weapon. The cave runs on an onyx2 workstation. This is one of SGI's most powerful computer workstations. The Onyx2 runs on 12 processors, 9gb's of ram and four InfiniteReality2 graphics cards. Each of these costs $100,000.
Until systems like the cave are less expensive, we will all have to settle for those 40 pound goggles that confuse your brain with a small image instead of truly immerse your senses in a virtual stage. This stage isn't quite a virtual environment , but it is the best thing we have right now.
The future of gaming will truly be an amazing thing. We will be able to play basketball just as we normally would without leaving the comfort of our homes. Many would say this would contribute to the laziness of Americans', but it is quite the contrary. If every American had a virtual room in their house than we would all find it more convenient for us to exercise. This would solve the problem of most obesity.