Jan 2 • Dinesh Punni

How to become a Virtual Reality developer in 2023

Virtual Reality is an amazing technology. There is an infinite amount of VR use cases.

We all know about games, but there is so much more that you can do.

VR can also be used in education, retail, health care, tourism, fashion, automotive and but the list goes far beyond that. Back in 2017 one year after I started my VR journey as an oculus developer we used virtual reality and the leap motion to work on new ways to treat stroke patients for example.

1. Get a VR headset and spend time in VR

The first one is quite obvious but still crucial. You want to own a VR headset. This is necessary if you want to learn virtual reality programming.
The most popular VR devices out there are:
  • Oculus Quest / Oculus Quest 2
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive
  • Valve Index
  • Playstation VR

Each of them comes with different strengths and weaknesses but in the end, it's up to your budget and personal preference which one to buy.

The next step is to play a lot of VR games! Sounds cool right? I know 😎 It's for research purposes... There are a lot of cool games and apps out there but my absolute favorite is Beat Saber. I'm kind of addicted to that game lol. Oculus games work on the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift, so that's pretty cool.

Playing VR games helps you to understand what's out there and what concepts are being used. I definitely recommend checking out Half-Life: Alyx, since they made everything right with that game! And you can learn a lot from it. How else would you know how to make a VR game?

2. Learn VR programming by learning a game engine

Your VR programming career starts here! VR games and apps are most likely created in a game engine. But first of all, what the hell is a game engine?
Let's ask our friend Wikipedia:
💡 A game engine, also known as a game framework or gameframe, is a software-development environment designed for people to build video games. Developers use game engines to construct games for consoles, mobile devices, and personal computers.
Developers are pretty lazy and we don't want to re-invent the wheel. That's why a game engine offers functionality to many components we need when we create games (and also 3D/2D apps). Components such as
  • Managing user input
  • Graphics rendering
  • Physics
  • Sound
And much more, but we don't want to overcomplicate things here!

Which game engine should you learn?

I recommend choosing between Unity or Unreal Engine. Both of them are extremely powerful and pretty much the industry standard. Both of course have their pros and cons but in the end, it's a personal preference. I personally use Unity, because I prefer C# over C++ and Unity has a much stronger and bigger Comm(unity). PUN definitely intended lol
If you are looking for some awesome Unity VR tutorials or Unity AR tutorials then look no further! I'm teaching Unity for years now, so feel free to check out my YouTube channel and if you are serious about becoming a VR developer then check out my own XR Education Platform.

So nothing is stopping you know from learning VR development!

3. Get involved in the VR community

This is one of the most overlooked and underrated tips I always give. I seriously can't stress it enough.‍

Get involved in the AR/VR community! It just helps you sooo much.
  • You will meet like-minded people who will motivate the f*ck out of you
  • The community can help you overcome all kinds of challenges
  • You could potentially meet your future co-founder, employer, or even spouse (who knows?!)
  • You can showcase your work and people can see the amazing stuff you build
Engaging in AR / VR communities has helped me many times. And c'mon it's so much more fun together than alone.
Now your question might be where to find such an amazing, active and inspiring community. Look no further, my friend. I have the solution on a silver plate for you.
When I started there was no such community out there, which is why I created the XR Creators Discord Server and you are very welcome to join us!

4. Build a portfolio

I can tell from experience that having something to show outweighs pretty much anything. Seriously!

I guess this is a classic one. It's storytime:

When I was still a computer science student I just started with Unity and C#. A couple of months later I had my first own game which I'm still super proud of <3 But we don't want to talk about pride, we want to give helpful advice!

Well, this game literally got me 3 jobs with ease. For one of those, I didn't even apply for 😂 I was at a party and showed some random dudes my app. Apparently, they had a Unity game studio and were looking for Unity developers and asked me if I want to join them.

Sounds like too good to be true? Well, it wasn't just any party. It was a party of game developers and game studios that I got invited to by being active in the community. Talk about the butterfly effect! 🦋

On top of that my game Super Walljump won the German-wide 2016 Microsoft Imagine Cup which helped me even more in job interviews. Additionally, I attended dozens of game jams over the years and had many of those games shown on my website.


Let's summarize!
  1. Of course, you should have a VR headset at some point. You want to try out your prototypes on real devices and not rely on simulators forever.
  2. Learn Unity (C#) or Unreal Engine (C++). Try out both and see what you like more. For hands-on step by step, Unity VR tutorials check out my YouTube channel and my XR Education Platform
  3. Join any kind of AR / VR community. You know where to find the best one 😎
  4. Keep on building small prototypes and learn from each app you build. Showcase your work on social media and our community. It can do wonders for you. You never know who watches

Well, and this is it already. This is your starting point to learn VR development! 🙌🏻

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