The VR fitness genre is still relatively new, all things considered. Even though the space is still somewhat niche, it’s absolutely growing at a fast pace as seen by the number of games and players that continue to spring up. How did we get to this point though, you might ask? Well, some developers at Black Box VR have an idea.
Highlighted in a new episode of Innovation in Gaming from Lenovo that focuses on the VR fitness scene, a handful of developers at Black Box VR talked about how things have quickly grown over time. Colby Morgan, who serves as a director of VR development at Black Box, believes that the advent of the Oculus Quest is something that led to rapid growth for the virtual reality market. “Before the Quest, it was kind of like two different camps and two different worlds of VR. You had PC VR where you had to have like a two or three thousand dollar computer and a $600 headset. Or mobile VR, where you could get a piece of cardboard and your phone,” Morgan said in the video. “The Quest essentially bridged those two gaps of making a mobile headset that you could play with these PC experiences. I feel like that’s the big game-changer. For just VR adoption in general, that’s really what it’s going to take is making VR as accessible as possible and easy for anyone to jump in.”
Jeff Bull Jr., who is another VR Developer at Black Box, recalled his own first experiences with the tech as well when he first got his hands on it. “When I first got into VR, I was lucky enough to have a couple of friends that got into it at the same time as me. We just tried everything we possibly could,” Bull explained. “I had a friend who was several states away from me (we hadn’t seen each other in a little bit) and I was talking to him. I’m 5 feet, 8 inches and he’s 6 foot-something. But looking over at him and he’s actually talking down to me and I’m talking up to him [while in VR] that was just mind-blowing. I felt like I was actually standing next to him.”
As the VR space continued to expand, though, so did the number of games that people could play in it. Before long, new titles began to emerge that prompted players to get active in burn calories in ways that standard video games couldn’t. “One of the really cool things as far as VR fitness and the power that it has is that people really push a lot harder when they’re immersed,” Morgan said specifically of what he likes about the VR fitness genre. “You work out a lot harder, you go a lot longer than you would if you were just on a treadmill or air boxing at home or lifting weights in a gym. Just that immersion and the little bit of disconnect from the real-world really helps to push a user past what they normally would do.”
Speaking specifically to how Black Box looked to fit into this space, Bull then talked about the company’s own video game that it has released. “We have a machine that’s a robotic cable resistance machine that pairs with a VR headset. You have your handles and your cables hooked up to these motors that provide resistance,” Bull explained. “So you have yourself on one side and the enemy on the other. And this enemy right now is like an AI, a computer, that works against you to push you.”
Moving forward, Bull also said that Black Box has big plans for its VR gyms that have started to appear around the world. “And we’re also working on a multiplayer aspect right now that eventually you and a friend or you and someone else from another Black Box location can fight each other,” said of the experience’s future iteration.
As a whole, it’s incredibly impressive to see how much the VR fitness market has grown in such a short period of time. With VR headsets only becoming more accessible as time goes on and more games, competitions, and activities burgeoning within the scene, it stands to reason that this is one area of the video game industry that will only continue to grow substantially as we move forward.