Way back in the early nineties I remember getting into an early VR Machine (I’ve since learned it was Dactyl Nightmare), removing my glasses and being totally unimpressed but intrigued by the concept of VR.
Fast forward 20 years and now that giant arcade machine is now available in my phone, and I can share the experiences with my kids. I simply load it up and put it on them and they can experience all sorts of places, events, and things many with no cost. Now the Gear VR is not the most robust of VR headsets but with young kids that’s actually not a bad thing as I’m not sure I’d want them flailing about with controllers quite yet.
Jurassic World: Apatosaurus Age 13+ Experience
The first thing I show many people, my kids included, in the Gear VR is Jurassic World: Apatosaurus. It is a fun and not really scary experience where you get to see a sleeping apatosaurus get up and look at you a bit before walking off. Like most kids, mine love dinosaurs and there’s nothing quite like seeing their faces as they react to the giant dinosaur looking them in the face. The funniest reaction I’ve seen though is a co worker who literally ducked down to avoid the dinosaur as he was totally freaking out about it.
Titans of Space Age 3+ Experience/Learning
Space is big, really big, like totally gigantic and bigger than anything you can imagine. I’ve always been a fan of space but scale is something hard to get across to people, but thanks to VR it doesn’t have to be. With Titans of Space you can now see just how tiny the Earth is compared to Jupiter, let alone compared to the sun. Better yet? You get to see just how tiny the sun is to several other local stars. This is a great learning experience for everyone but I do recommend you sit during it because the experience moves and it can cause motion sickness.
Up on the Housetop Age 13+ Experience/Performance
I’ve enjoyed Pentatonix for a while now but when I found out they did a Christmas album with a special VR video I just had to check it out. Full warning to you, if you do not like the usual “song on a loop” thing that kids do, then do NOT get this one because that’s all it is. Saying that is selling the experience short because you are taken on a Christmas toy music video trip complete with Legos members of the band singing along as you fly on Santa’s sleigh. My son especially likes this one and every chance he gets watches this over and over and over again.
When you look at VR for kids there are two things I like to take into consideration:
- Duration of play. Most VR is stereoscopic video in nature and with young eyes (under the age of 13) it is often recommended to not expose their eyes to that kind of image for too long. As someone who grew up with a lazy eye I can see the advantage of heeding that advice.
- Comfort of experience. The Oculus store lists a “comfort” rating on most of their programs and I highly recommend keeping an eye on that rating unless you want sick kids and cleaning up a mess.
At the end of the day you can try out VR really inexpensively with Google Cardboard which allows you to put your phone in a literal cardboard box and look around like it’s one of those old View-Master toys. I highly recommend trying it out just because of the glimpse of a possible future this shows as these can be highly entertaining and interesting experiences.
See you inside the matrix!