I remember that way back around 1995, there was this big craze with VR in the media, a whole bunch of (mostly mediocre) games labeled as "virtual-reality-interactive-movie (...)" were published. If I recall correctly, the first 3D VR helmet was called VFX-1 and was sold bundled with Descent and some dedicated joystick. I never owned one, and I read just one review which was mostly enthusiastic, but pointed to some weak points, like the eyes getting tired after an hour or so of playing. Then the whole thing basically flickered down and died.
I suppose the main reason it wasn't successful was that the hardware of the day was not powerful enough, the VR gear's design wasn't perfected to make it comfortable and natural to use, and the companies that made it failed to market it successfully. What I can't understand is why isn't there any development in the field today. There is some vr-ish hardware mostly targeted at the consoles (Kinect, Wii remote, TrackIR), but all projects of creating some 3d head-mounted display system seem to be in early infancy, appear once in a trade show somewhere and aren't heard of again.
I think it could work great with head tracking and some of today's shooters, flight sims (trackIR is nice but the movement scale translation is awkward) and other games with an FPP POV. Is there any technological reason why decent vr headgear can't be made today, or is it just that nobody really cares/everyone is scared to repeat the '90s failure?