Virtual reality is pretty much the next big thing, as it has been for about 20 years now. Being the “next big thing” for so long just shows how much hype it has and how challenging it has been to make virtual reality a practical reality. Much of that work falls on developers who are doing all they can with current and bleeding-edge technologies to push the envelope ever forward.
You can be a virtual reality developer too, but only if it truly is what you’re looking for. Being a part of technology’s next big leap is an exciting prospect, but you must be able to actively contribute to it. The road to becoming a developer is something that one must be able walk and stumble through without loss of enthusiasm upon reaching a milestone.
Of course, the foundation is to be a developer in the first place, whether you’re a programmer, 3D artist, or so on. You must have the core skills needed to take that next step in getting into virtual reality(VR). Experience with working in a team and working on projects is also a recommended pre-requisite, since you should be comfortable working in such conditions. VR is fairly similar, but with more unfamiliar and unusual hardware to deal with.
Creating 3D environments in a computer is one thing, but making them for VR has its own set of challenges, many of which are still being solved. The most obvious application is in video games, so it helps greatly if you’re a game developer. However, developers from other fields are also valuable as they can bring ideas and potential solutions from other perspectives. Whether it’s film, architecture, engineering, interior design, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, or so on, each of these fields will be able to benefit from the advent of VR technology.
The most important requirement is to have the desire to come up with totally new ideas and work with them persistently. Creating new technologies is basically problem solving, and nothing substantial comes out if those working at it won’t persist even when hope seems lost. This is the fate of all who embark on new frontiers like this.
The most famous name in VR right now is the Oculus Rift, being developed by Oculus, which is now owned by Facebook — the social media giant snatched the project up for $2 billion. They’re at the forefront right now in VR technology, spearheading the movement to the future.
Other major efforts include the Sony PlayStation VR, also known as Project Morpheus. As the name suggests, this one is definitely gaming-focused. There’s also the Microsoft HoloLens, which has been previewed in E3 2015. As for the mobile market, the Samsung Gear VR is being developed in partnership with Oculus to bring VR to smartphones. Apple has also tossed their hat in the game, having filed a patent for their own set of head-mounted VR goggles.
As Tesla is with the electric car, these companies are pushing virtual reality forward, and you can aim at getting a job in one of them to become a virtual reality developer. These are prestigious companies that are known to be havens for other like-minded developers who are passionate about their fields.
If you’re more into making VR games, then you should join companies like Valve, who are also developing their own VR with SteamVR. There are also quite a few game development companies that are actively developing for VR, including nDreams, Reload Studios, Crytek, Uber Entertainment, and many more.
You can also get yourself an Oculus Rift Development Kit and make games with it. This is a more grassroots approach that will take a lot of effort to pull off; being an indie game developer can be a hard life. However, if your passion is in making games, then this could be the way to go for you. You’ll definitely be considered a VR developer when you come out with your own VR game, especially if it’s good. There are a brave and ambitious few who are doing just this, and you can join them if you really have the heart and drive for it.
Becoming a virtual reality developer is challenging and fascinating, and time can only tell whether it will soon take over our world or if it needs even more time to pull that off. Whatever the result may be, there are a whole lot of really smart people who are constantly working on it tirelessly, trying to bring the virtual world into our peripheral vision.
As a virtual reality developer, you know you’re doing your part in changing the world for the future. That’s quite a reward in itself, and the journey is indeed a very interesting one.