Virtual reality (Citizenship and virtual words) – Bac d’anglais

La réalité virtuelle (virtual reality) a connu une grande évolution au cours du XX et XXIe siècle. Aujourd’hui, elle est utilisée dans différents secteurs mais ses impacts font l’objet de nombreux débats. Quelle est la chronologie de la réalité virtuelle? Quels changements a apporté la réalité virtuelle au sein de cette industrie et quels dangers comporte-t-elle?

Definition of virtual reality

Cambridge Dictionary defines virtual reality (VR) as “a set of images and sounds, produced by a computer, that seem to represent a place or a situation that a person can take part in”.

In fact, it is so realistic that the one person playing it will be totally overwhelmed by the images projected in their headset. This makes the gaming experience more realistic than ever. It also allows the video game industry to diversify themselves in order to reach more consumers. For example, one might not see the point to play with a controller in front of the screen because it is not realistic enough. This person might, however, be interested in VR gaming.

What you should know about virtual reality

Here is a short timeline on the evolution of computer science and virtual reality. It will help you understand how the technology surrounding virtual reality has evolved and how it progressively took place in our daily lives.

  • 1936: Alan Turing publishes On Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem; first template of the Turing machine;
  • 1954: the creation of Fortran, the first high-level programming language to be implemented on a computer;
  • 1991: launch of Virtuality, the grand public can experience virtual reality for the first time
  • 2007: street view mode on Google Maps
  • 2010s: first experiments of using virtual reality in the healthcare industry
  • 2012: Oculus Rift (not the property of Facebook) headset
  • 2016: the democratisation of virtual reality gaming with the release of Sony’s PlayStation VR headset.

Relevant examples you can use to talk about virtual reality

Virtual reality in video games

Since the 2010s, one particular innovation in the video game industry has gained tremendous success: the use of VR. This allows video games to play on a whole new field: in front of the screen.

Virtual reality is probably going to reshape the whole video game industry over the next few years. However, we have to consider some of the risks it involves. First of all, we know that spending to much time in front of screens might harm the health of some people, especially by children or young teenagers. It is not popular enough in order to make studies on the effects of it on children for example. Moreover, one might consider that for children having trouble to socialise, VR might worsen their case. By playing too much with it, a child might not be able to distinguish real life from the fake reality anymore.

The use of VR in health

In the healthcare industry as well, the emergence of VR also offers possibilities no one could have fathomed a few years back. One example of it is telemedicine. In the same way, as teleworking, telemedicine allows the patient to consult a doctor without having to travel to the doctor’s office. This has numerous advantages. It is quicker, more efficient. It also allows for avoiding the transmission of infectious diseases and viruses such as the Covid-19.

Experiences are also being performed in order to see the effects that VT could have as an anaesthetic. For example, its use can distract patients while they undergo surgery. Still, the technology has to improve at the moment in order to work efficiently.

Finally, it can also be used as a morale boost for heavy hospitalisations. Patients undergoing long chemotherapies or rehabilitations could see VR integrated into their healing process.

Learning with virtual reality

Apart from gaming and healthcare, VR also has a notable impact on learning. One example we can talk about is flight simulators. A VR could allow a person to learn how to fly without having to do it on a plane. This has numerous advantages: it democratises access to such formations and also decreases the risk considerably, as flying a plane involves obvious dangers.

Another argument in favour of using virtual reality as a learning module is the fact that is savs time. Let us take the example of a firm that needs to train several of its employees at a specific task. Virtual reality could allow these employees to learn this task at their rhythm, and the firm would not have to consecrate much time to the training.

Last but not least, virtual reality could in some cases allow saving money on learning. For example, a company could pay the price to develop a certain learning module using virtual reality, but in the end, it would gain a considerable amount of money, as paying upfront will allow it not to spend more resources on the task anymore.

Quotes regarding video games and virtual reality

You will find below a list of quotes that you could use in your work on video games and virtual reality. For more quotes on the subject, you can go on goodreads:

  • “I think it’s fair to say most video games let players experience only eight emotions: anger, panic, dread, surprise, wonder, satisfaction, joy and disappointment. And some games only disappoint.” – Scott Rogers;
  • “For many game players, games exist for entertainment, for passing the time, for fun. They are a diversionary activity, meant for relaxation or distraction—a “not- work” space where players are free to engage in fantasy narratives, amazing feats, and rewarding tasks. But what if certain games have become something more?” – Mary Flanagan;
  • “The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.” – Mark Zuckerberg.

How to use these examples during your exam?

Example: Since the 2010s, virtual reality has continued to grow and to gain importance within the video game industry. After having defined what virtual reality is, explain how the use of it is going to change the video game industry further in the upcoming years.

In the example above, we can see that it is essential that you clearly define the concept of virtual reality before entering into anything further. This will allow you to lay the foundation for your work. After that, use the examples you have seen in class, as well as the examples above and your personal knowledge in order to argue the fact that virtual reality has and will continue to change the video game industry. Remember to stay critical: there are not only advantages or only dangers, try to nuance your argumentation. This will show the corrector that you fully grasped the topic of the question.

Conclusion

Virtual reality is still young and will continue to improve and to take more place in our daily lives over the following years. Be sure to read the news and to inform yourself on the topic in order to be relevant in your argumentation! Do not forget to read this article in order to improve your oral skills!