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Many types of virtual reality sites are involved with entertainment and telepresence, namely simulated world sites and social interaction venues. These websites allow users to interact with each other in a variety of ways, regardless of the physical distance between them. A number of virtual reality sites also exist to educate users via virtual tours and object exhibits. Virtual reality sites also exist for training individuals for otherwise-inaccessible tasks, such as piloting an airplane. Researchers work alongside virtual reality programmers to create sites that could be used for different forms of therapy, with promising results.
Simulated world sites are services that allow users to create a unique virtual life within the program. Depending on the site, users can build virtual businesses, broadcast their own variety shows, and participate in competitions with other users, among numerous other things. Some just focus on the social aspect and create three-dimensional chat rooms where users can converse with each other. These sites often let users move through a virtual reality environment with the use of player-created avatars. Virtual reality games like massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) fall under this category.
Some virtual reality sites are dedicated to offering three-dimensional tours of various landmarks. Users can navigate through computer-generated likenesses of these areas and explore their many facets. The sites can represent real-world places such as museums, allowing users from across the globe to visit and experience the sights, while some are used for areas otherwise closed to the public for safety and maintenance reasons. Numerous virtual reality sites offer tours of fictional places, ranging from established pop culture landmarks to newly-generated fantasy worlds. Other sites focus on allowing users to examine and manipulate computer-generated models of historical artifacts and other objects.
Developers have also created training sites for tasks that are either high-risk or have high execution costs. Surgeons, for example, can train for certain operations with the aid of virtual reality sites. Some programs are sophisticated enough to support haptic systems, which can simulate what a particular object or action feels like with the aid of special controls.
Virtual reality sites are also explored for their potential in psychological therapy, particularly in exposure treatment. The sense of realism offered by computer-simulated environments allows users to confront distressing stimuli in the safety and comfort of their homes. Virtual reality has been identified as a possible first step to overcoming phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with favorable results.
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