The skills aren’t just for coders and developers, either. According to Associate Professor Stefan Greuter, Director at the Centre for Game Design Research at RMIT University, the demand will be in areas that aren’t necessarily obvious now.
“The right qualifications aren’t just for games designers, there’ll be other professions as well. For architects, for example, an understanding of virtual reality will be really important because VR is a medium of the future, one that will impact their industry and it’s not going away.
“Whatever they learn about VR is also easily translatable into AR, which is another area seeing significant growth and may even replace VR.”
The beauty of virtual and augmented reality lies in their ability to be only as limited as our own imaginations, quite literally. While the term “virtual reality” is used a lot, the meaning is often glossed over.
At its core, it offers people a simulated reality that’s different to the one we currently exist in now. It makes ossible new ways of working, along with more advanced ways of training, consulting and communicating.
“Virtual reality will act like a second screen in the working world, in the way it improves our productivity and helps us find new ways of working,” Greuter says.
“And while the gaming market is a driving force, virtual reality has a lot of other potential applications like simulations for the defence force, flight simulator training or architectural visualisations or health.
“There’s some great research conducted recently that looked at drug design and delivery where VR was used to allow people to walk through a cell and better understand it – the technology holds so much potential.”
VR and AR also give people more ways to connect with people and express themselves. In the same way that the internet has facilitated connections between people that have felt traditionally marginalised, giving them a voice, VR allows people to overcome the tyranny of distance and connect with one another in a form that goes beyond text or 2D video.
“Game engines, which still drive VR technology, are naturally built for multi-player experiences,” says Greuter.
“This makes it easy to alter so people can co-locate and interact with one another. We’ve seen people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg support VR, and that’s a recognition of the ability for VR to bring people together.”
Another area lies in creative expression – a less tangible but equally important area for the technology to provide headway.
“Through VR and AR, we’re giving people tools to artistically express themselves. People who can’t draw but can learn to code – it’s another type of canvas for people to draw on, which has multiple benefits,” Greuter says.
“Cinema is a canvas, TV is a medium to express yourself creatively. Now VR and AR need to be understood so we can purposefully design applications and art for them.
"Because we can’t translate existing media for VR, my experience has been that we need to start creating things with the possibilities and limitations of the media in mind.”
First published 20 June 2017.