VR preferences by age group

You can skip all the lather below of course, but the basic question is:

[I think I posted this to the wrong forum - Hangar Talk? How to move it? Un-regard, got it…]

Does it seem like the older you are the more you prefer VR over a 2D, high-res monitor? Just a tendency I think I’ve observed, and am curious about.

Over the last couple of years, since VR established itself, I've watched many opinions fly concerning VR vs High-res 2D screens. Won't regurgitate it all (if you're reading this then you've seen it yourself). Off the top of my head though:
  • It’s too low-res
  • It’s too slow (FPS), and the resultant disadvantage that might have to a player in a competitive context
  • It’s too uncomfortable

Yes, to all the above, but…It ain’t that bad, is it? I’ve waited for this tech for, literally, decades…

For me, I don’t care how pretty it is (2D monitor), no VR, no interest. VR is just good enough to me. I’ve been strictly a PC Flight sim guy since the 80’s. I’ll be VR’g [mostly] happy in my low-res, 3D, 1:1 head-to-view ratio device til, well, til I guess I can’t afford the equipment upgrades anymore. Even if this is as good as it ever gets in VR. I have an O+ and have tweaked it such that I could even live with that resolution (PPD) at 180-degree FOV.

So, it seems to me, and this is a large WAG: younger simmers tend to prefer the Hi-Res, 2D experience over VR, as it currently exists anyway. Is the lower FPS really the Big Deal? I find low FPS annoying too, but, hey…

I’ve been putting up with a reduction in performance every single time new tech comes out since I played Strike Eagle (wireframe graphics no less!) on my Tandy 1000. Feels like it took a LOT more imagination back then (to enjoy these virtual things) but, honestly, there was nothing before it so anything was cool.

I got deep into PC flight sims initially from the ‘bright idea’ that it would help me learn a large stack of IAP’s (had to memorize them, but only once) – “Hey, I’ll just fly the darn things in FS…” - the original, flat-earth 4 color version. And no, I didn’t really need to use this method but, hey, it helped :slight_smile:

I just see a trend here. I think. Or do I have it completely bass-ackwards…

Was wondering if anyone else has wondered the same. I don’t care what others prefer. I just want to see VR for this genre advance…while I’m young! :slight_smile: The signs of a shift have been around for a while; sometimes I think this genre is too demanding (for various reasons) on gamers/simmers – ‘back in the day’ if you were a simmer you were also a computer-person too. You kinda had to be.

I recall having LAN-parties, circa 1992, (before I knew that’s what they were called) with a bunch of ‘geeks’; they’d haul all the gear in their cars to my place to play Flight of the Intruder. A majority of us were programmers to some degree (ASM, C/C++, etc), professionally or as a ‘hobby’ [me].

Smooth rides,


My quick thoughts in a bit of a random order.

So flight simmers make up a very small part of what the VR headset makers factor in to, well, anything really. The fact that we can use the headsets for flight simming is almost an accident.

The VR game makers for the made-for-VR games is about standing or room-scale titles. Lots of shooting with guns, lots of moving around. Or dancing, i.e. Beat Saber. The PS/4 is probably the best selling VR market. Those people are probably young and don’t play flight sims.

Flight sim people tend to be older, just as a guess. VR tends to attract people with more money than sense disposable income, so again shifting older.

Combat flight sim players who are younger like to win online. They’ll tune their TrackIR profile to be snap-turn quick, they’ll stomp rudder pedals like a damage model doesn’t exist, people like to win, it’s human nature. You don’t win MP with VR particularly.

VR is at the ‘laser disk’ stage of tech adoption, where both the price and the medium is the problem. For mainstream adoption it’s still too expensive and you don’t have a ‘gotta buy it!’ reason to get it.

If Facebook sells lots of Quest headsets then games makers will make better VR games and we might get future generations of headsets. If Valve manages to get lots of people playing VR because Half Life 2.5 Alyx is available on it, then VR might thrive and again, we get more headsets on the market in the future. If 100 people buy Reverb’s to play flight sims, I don’t think HP or anyone else cares. We’re a happy accident.

Resolution isn’t that important to the mainstream VR player, in-fact the opposite. They don’t need to spot a target or read a tiny barometer reading. The made for VR games get by that by changing the game to fit the resolution, while sims like DCS and XP11 don’t adapt like that. That means you need a $1500 PC to even get to the stage of buying a $600 headset for sims. It doesn’t help that flight sims tend to be from (game making in general) tiny and niche companies, whose graphics engines are not cutting edge. You need to huge PC power for decent frames and we’re talking about 2x4k at 90 fps for comfortable experiences - something sims have always been terrible at.

So in some ways the future of VR for flight sims is completely out of our hands. It would take mainstream VR to take off, with resolutions just accidentally becoming better to make sims more playable because mobile phone panels are cheap to make.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. :wink:


I think your point has merit.

The fact that us…not that young anymore…flightsimmers did in fact experience single digit framerates, wireframe graphics and 30min loading times, did prepare us to make do and enjoy what we got instead of complaining about it.

I mean, there are downsides to VR. No doubt about that! You need serious hardware and still have to lower the graphics settings, do some tinkering and realize that checking six is much easier with a TrackIR. Not to mention resolution and screen door effect, even if that’s already a thing of the past, with the latest headsets.
And, flightsimming on a 2D screen, with TrackIR, is still a really great option for most people. But like you, I feel that VR is so incredibly immersive that I could only go back to 2D if it was handled by six projectors onto a dome screen…and I can’t fit that in my house.

Now, younger users are more accustomed to high FPS and better graphics. They are forced to lower their expectations below their entrypoint, perhaps. Old farts still think the graphics look awesome, compared to Falcon 3, if you know what I mean.

So, perhaps experience, which comes with age, is the key here…

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Just seemed that, 20+ years ago flight sims WERE the big deal – and I gon’t Grok why they’ve fallen (and with it the associated gizmo that support them: VR of course being just one).

Perhaps VR’s popularity within hardcore racing sims will be of benefit to ‘us’ too.

This [line of thought] started when I showed my grandson my shiny new VR & Virtual F18. Put him over the NTTR at 180 and said, “She’s all yours, sonny…”. After a yanking the stick a few times, he was like, “eh…”. He spent the rest of the afternoon adding calluses to his thumbs on some Twitch Game (those bore the heck outta me after 5 minutes). Fun I guess, but limited.

I feel so…outta touch.


I don’t want this to sound, um, high-brow, (I really don’t mean it that way) but I think I know what it may be: imagination -vs- escapism? You imagined you were flying the real thing (real people really do this); and you wanted to learn about all this sky-stuff. And it was escapist ta-boot. Ya got all three.

Hadn’t really thought about the expense. Dang things have always been expensive. The aforementioned Tandy 1000 was’t cheap [to me]. ~$1000.00 in 1987 dollars?..Yup, ~$2260 in today’s dollars.

  • AND we had to play them – IN THE SNOW! UPHILL, BOTH WAYS :slight_smile:

Did… did you read any Eagle Dynamics forum thread?


Well, there are exceptions to the rule.
I’m talking about righteous ol’ farts, not those who were spoiled brat sissies, in their youth… :wink:


:slight_smile: Just pulling your … old … leg.


That is my biggest takeaway. I’m older, a bit more comfortable financially, and can splurge on the hardware to make VR as pleasant as can be. Of course, we live pretty frugally in other regards to make that happen…so it really isn’t all that guilty of a pleasure…


My body is perhaps atypical for my age group. I may be mid-40s, but I still have the hair and skin of a teenager. Wearing my cap with the TrackIR reflector on it for just 30 mins is enough to screw up my hair, 2 hours and I almost need to shower again.

VR rigs make me itch. They are too big and bulky. Constantly reaching under the straps to scratch my scalp, my forehead, anywhere there is contact.
Heavy, wired, hot (my PC room is generally at 78F or above year round, except for part of January/Feb where it can be in the low 70s), unable to leave the house after use, and on top of it all they cost more money than I’m comfortable spending.

Makes ones like Google Glass in size and I’m in. Wireless glasses with 1080p res (I only have a 1080p 24" monitor, so I don’t care about higher res, I generally render higher and bring down for FSAA purposes because I can’t STAND aliasing) and a TIR style tracker over my monitor and I will gladly get them.

Wearing what is basically an iPhone X Plus on my face? Nope.

So I am not even bothering to try a flight sim with it because that’s self-defeating. It’s a bit like telling someone “would you like to try the best BBQ ribs in your life? One note–it will give you severe bed-ridden stomach cramps for a day afterwards, but they taste like heaven!” No thanks, I’ll make do with ok BBQ that doesn’t bother me afterwards.

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Easy fix!

You lost me… Was that a VR metaphor?


Sounds almost like strapping into a real cockpit with a helmet and O2 mask… :wink:


Don’t you just love smokedrills with Full Face Mask or PBE…!


I don’t think I care about any of this. People in this hobby are needy yet fickle. They get paralyzed by a tight focus on flaws to the exclusion of the beauty. So I enjoy it fully and assign almost no credibility to criticism. This thing is a miracle. That such a thing could be made available to me for $300 is a gift from the gods.


I honestly think that simmers tend older, more conservative etc.

Vr on the other hand, is new; the next big thing, and is firmly aimed at games in the consumer marketplace, which tends younger.

In fact, it’s my impression that “gamer” is a four letter word in the current flightsim community, so of course the Vr marketplace, heavy with explosions, jumpscares, twitch experiences, and fanciful flights of whimsy, are not going to have the fastest uptake in a determinedly “hardcore” and “serious” and “study level” community.

In fact, I’ve said before, that in a community that would use VR only for flight simming while eschewing other experiences, I’m not sure the cost to benefit balance is is favorable, since when the novelty finally begins to wane a bit, there are no other uses to turn to, to keep the adventure fresh.

Further, many flight forums out there have so far seemed to either have a generally adverse reaction to vr or are pretty much ignoring it, presenting strong encouragement to those who are interested to take the genre to more welcoming venues, like discord, facebook, or reddit.

I consider this particular site an outlier, and have noted with interest that in the more traditionalist community sites I visit, it’s hard to find one, if any, moderators who either has vr, has experience with vr, or even has any real interest in vr over whatever they’ve used for the last few decades, such as TrackIR.

Those attitudes come through loud and clear to visitors, and I think that will over time encourage the steady migration of younger (and younger minded) aviation enthusiasts to competing fora.

I think this migration is already a fact of life, and noticed the recent navigraph survey pointing in that direction…


I cannot speak for others, but as far as I am concerned: I have not yet decided what I want.
I kiiinda like VR but I still feel that it adds a layer of complexity instead of feeling natural.
There are still too many things that require stuff like key presses (although I helped myself a hit with voice commands), hand controllers are kinda clunky and don’t feel natural at all to me (and I cannot grab my HOTAS).

I am also cursed with very good eyes. Seeing blurry images and not being able to read instruments is very annoying to me.

So I’d say that my main points about VR that I want to see are these:

  1. high resolution, high performance. That comes with computing power. I lack the money to have a PC like some of y’all have, and I think I hit a price/performance sweet spot with the RTX2070S and the Rift S, but… yeah. It is the bare minimum. Double that resolution and I would probably be fine. I am used the old times where frame rates were poor so I don’t mind 40FPS instead of 60+, but I don’t like slide shows either.
    We will get there. Another generation of VR headsets and PCs and I’ll probably won’t switch back ever.

  2. More support. “VR game/sim” means more than just “yeah you can use the goggles and see in 3D”. I want usable kneeboards (how am I supposed to look at my mission plan, my frequencies, take notes and all that jazz? I do that on paper or on a second screen, both of which I cannot see in VR), menu screens that properly work in VR and better integration of controllers.

Right now I do a few flights in VR occasionally, mostly just flying around idly in a simple plane. But as soon as it gets either a tad more complex I go back to screen+TrackIR as it impossible for me to fight effectively in my beloved Warthog for example.

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Well put!
Why can’t I be this eloquent…?


Because you waste your time building beautiful physical objects that are themselves the expressions of a mind constantly working towards perfecting elegant designs that address your needs when nothing “off the rack” can.


The first time I put on VR and set X-Plane to a night scenario with runway lights and city lights…I was blown away. I felt like I was right back in the sim at SimuFlite (moreso than the real airplane)…but that is many times worth the price of admission. I was just gob-smacked at it.


I have a friend who finally broke down and purchased a Samsung VR unit after a month of research. He too was blown away. But a week later back into the box it went. And for him that was a perfectly rational reaction. His sim life is purely online with an IL2 squad and the limitations of VR were too high to hurdle. TrackIR gives a player superhuman powers. By moving your head an inch you can instantly look over your shoulder. Hitting “zoom” let’s you focus in on that bandit 8 km away at 10x. VR zoom gives you 2x, maybe. So if being competitive is the joy, VR is NOT the way to go.

I love flying online. I am not good at at it. I never was. I never will be. But I love the experience and I am not bothered by virtual death. So for someone like me, the system works.