Programmers have long tailored videogames for computers, television consoles, and mobile devices. Now they are targeting three-dimensional simulations enabled by special eyewear, a key focus of a conference this week in San Francisco.
Many developers descending on the Game Developers Conference are expected to come toting prototype videogames, movies, and virtual-reality goggles, updates of offerings that ignited a short-lived technology craze in the early 1990s.
Current players on the scene include the startup Oculus VR, which announced low-cost virtual-reality goggles two years ago. Discussions about creating 3D games to exploit such technologies are on the agenda at the event, known as GDC.
Virtual reality is closely linked to 3D technology, which has long been used in movie theaters and is spreading rapidly to other applications. Companies such as Valve Corp., famous for its "Half-Life" and "Portal" videogame franchises, developed products for using this technology in videogames.
Virtual-reality goggles instead have built-in displays to help convey the effect of entering a simulated world, as opposed to relying on transparent 3D glasses for viewing a movie or TV screen.
The new goggles have benefited from advances in the quality and price of display technology, driven largely by the high-volume manufacturing of screens for smartphones.