VR Gets Artsy


When you think of virtual reality (VR), the first thing that probably comes to mind is VR video games. VR has come along way over the last few years. You can now play VR games on your phone, VR games are much improved generally, and new VR tech is coming out all the time. If you love video games, now is a pretty exciting time to play. But with virtual reality marching into the mainstream, its applications are far more wide-reaching than video games. VR is set to completely change the way we live our lives — and that includes the way that we make and experience art. But is our understanding of what art is also evolving?

Are Video Games Art?

This has been debated for a while now, but many are starting to agree: Video games are an art form, perhaps one of the most important art forms of the 21st century. Making video games requires a lot of creativity, skill, and imagination. They’re very visual and interactive, and mix elements of filmmaking, storytelling, and gaming. They come in a range of different styles, often showcasing the individual creative talents of the games’ designers.

Compare it to viewing some of your favorite films in an artistic way. With a film, you might think about the characters, the acting, the costumes, the storytelling, and the composition of each shot. If you want to appreciate all of this in a video game, you can do so, just like with a film. You can play the game, and you can admire and think about how it was made. Some VR games are certainly more detailed and complex than others, but that doesn’t mean that a simply-made VR game is any less of an art form. Like with real-life art, it’s subjective.

But the artistic applications of VR don’t stop there. Outside the world of video games, artists are now using VR to create art.

VR Artists

If VR is the future, then eventually, viewing and creating art in the VR realm might become the norm. In fact, all of this is already in progress. For example, we can already view art and walk through virtual museums with Google Arts & Culture virtual reality tours. And many artists have already switched over to creating VR art. There are now exhibits for VR art, and you can even collect VR art.

VR art allows both the artist and the viewer to experience art in a new way, perhaps even a way that was impossible before. For example, a viewer could actually touch and interact with the art, maybe even manipulate it and change it, allowing them to become a part of the artwork and the creation process themselves. Or the viewer might be able to “step into” the VR painting or artwork and explore, just like in a video game.

While a lot of virtual art tends to be on the sculptural side, many VR artists also like to blend the real and virtual worlds. A VR painter might put their virtual art on display in their ideal setting, such as a field of flowers or even a bizarre planet out of a sci-fi movie. With VR, the possibilities are seemingly endless — there are fewer constraints than in the real world. Whatever you can imagine, you can create.

How to Create VR Art

Curious about joining the VR art world? Although it’s not always as easy as picking up a paint brush and some paints, there are apps that will allow you to create 3D art. The most popular app (for beginners and experienced artists alike) is Google’s Tilt Brush, which is available for Vive, Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Quest, and Valve Index. It lets you experiment with smoke, fire, ink, water, lights, movement, and more to create virtual art. You can then share your art and view others’ art in the virtual world.

In the world of virtual art, one thing’s for sure: VR artists are just getting started.