How do I start learning about virtual reality to either keep it as a hobby or become one of the creators?
There is no better time to choose a career in technology, and that doesn’t matter whether it’s your first career or a change. Tech jobs are flexible too, if you can do the job, it’s okay if you only just qualified, or topped up a qualification from years ago with new learning.
If you can prove you can create awesome virtual reality games, applications or content – you will get hired. It’s easy to start learning about virtual reality online too. There are some excellent e-learning options out there.
But, you have a few virtual reality basics to learn.
Virtual Reality Basics
What do we know about virtual reality already? We know it’s about the delivery of images primarily, which trick our minds into believing we are in the real world. Combined with the reaction of an application to our movements and sound, or an action from a device.
So, you want to start learning about virtual reality? What will your course teach you? Is a career in virtual reality for you?
Virtual reality can be a difficult subject to digest especially if you have no prior experience in software development. But first, you have to understand a difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality is defined slightly differently. With virtual reality your headset gives you a complete interface, everything you see is generated by the headset and within the application.
With augmented reality, you can still see all, or part, of the world around you. Augmented reality enhances your reality.
Google Glass is a primary example, where you receive additional images and information to the world around you. Holographic technology is another example – where holographs are imposed on the world around you, like virtual reality, you can interact with them.
Virtual Reality Software Development
Many virtual reality developers started out in game development, but not all. And, not all virtual reality applications follow the same principles as games, but many do.
If you have game or software development background stepping into virtual reality is going to be more comfortable. If not, you need to look into learning some basic techniques and background knowledge of standard game or software development.
These techniques and skills could include:
- Coding or programming
- Systems design
- Basic physics
- Animation/3D art
Now yes, there are many applications for creating games and software that don’t need all these skills. They, however, limit the quality of the application you can create. If you want to create something that might sell, for instance, then you need to learn much more than using someone else’s application.
CODING! Coding or programming is the backbone of any application. It’s the part that means if you do “x” within a game then “xyz” will happen. If you push your controller forward, in the game, your character will “walk” forward. There is a whole series of code – instructions – for every step.
Any piece of software, application, computer, or website relies on reams and reams of programming or coding language. NB. The terms programming and coding are used interchangeably here, though they can be defined slightly differently.
If you enrol in a course for virtual reality you will probably start by learning:
- Virtual reality hardware
- The history of virtual reality
- Virtual reality frameworks and applications
- Illusion and the psychology of virtual reality
- The challenges faced by the virtual reality industry
How to Become a Virtual Reality Developer
Some of the hottest jobs around are in virtual reality if you are serious about becoming a virtual reality developer you need to:
- Have or gain some background in programming, 3D design and/or game development
- Learn the basics of virtual reality
- Try out some applications which allow you to create virtual content
- Take an industry recognised course
- Create some virtual reality content you can use in our portfolio
- Start job hunting!
The Best Online Courses to Start Learning about Virtual Reality
You can choose anything from a short course, a few tutorials, or a nanodegree right through to a full computer science qualification online. We pick a couple of the best online courses to start learning more about virtual reality.
Udacity has a nanodegree program partnered with virtual reality experts Unity. You can learn from other industry experts too like Google, and HTC. It’s a six-month virtual reality course of about eight hours per week.
To start out learning the virtual reality basics, have a dabble in creating virtual content for a hobby, or see if virtual reality is for you, Udemy has a vast range of smaller courses. Some are free, most are cheap and short, and give great tasters for the industry.
We like this one from Udemy as you can learn to build games for Google Cardboard. Both the course and Google cardboard are inexpensive. So, it’s a perfect choice to see if virtual reality development could be for you.
Build Virtual Reality Games for Google Cardboard using Unity
In the course, you start learning about virtual reality and Google Cardboard, understand virtual reality headsets, learn best practices, build three virtual reality games and a PC game, and write codes in C# programming language.
Must-haves For a Career in Virtual Reality
We all can achieve pretty much anything we want to, with the right effort, and sometimes the right situation. Our absolute essentials list for a career in virtual reality are:
- An affinity for, and understanding of, computer programming
- The time to invest in your learning, and the tuition fees if you are choosing a paid course
Though there are free courses around, if you don’t have a background in animation, programming or game development, you will probably need an in-depth course which will have a cost attached.
We say determination; firstly you are going to need to study hard. Secondly, any development work requires dogged perseverance. To develop a program or application, you are always problem-solving, correcting and testing. You need to be a pretty tenacious individual to be successful.
Think a career in virtual reality will suit you? Then get going, start learning about virtual reality. Developer salaries begin from around 55k USD per annum, and did you even think about how much fun you could have?! Maybe you will be next leader in virtual reality entertainment?