Is Virtual or Augmented Reality the Future of eSports?
Most of today’s main E-sports events are organized massive crowd gathering sensations that take place in huge sport arenas or theaters and venues that can accommodate the large number of people coming to watch the game.
The difference with the traditional sport games is that the game happens inside the computer and is usually shown on huge LCD or LED displays for the live audience to see. Contestants usually in teams compete via computer stations linked to a central server that displays the game being played in real time.
The popularity of games being played this way has been steadily increasing through the years that E-sports has been defined in equal terms to the more traditional Olympic games. The games are usually classified according to genre and category but at the very basic level they are mainly categorized into three.
Fighting Games, Team Based Real Time Strategy and Team Based First Person Shooters. Players are then referred to as Cyber-Athletes. These games are very competitive by nature and require skilled players in order to win. Crowds would gather at the venue to see and cheer their favorite teams or particular individual professional player.
E-sports is huge with big corporate sponsors, professional organizers, industry advertisers and a lot more who are involved in growing and maintaining this industry as price money alone goes up to the millions. Technology continues to evolve and new developments in computer gaming like Virtual and Augmented reality are already being accessed for their potential application to E-sports.
However, both gaming technologies are still in the process of evolving and considered not yet that stable for main-line E-sports to use. The potential however is huge and can be considered as probable to happen. All the gaming industry needs is to perfect the two outlining technologies over a period of time. Both Virtual and Augmented Reality have their own specific advantages and disadvantages when it comes to gaming. Based on this, we can hopefully speculate to which branch of E-sports each one or a combination of both would be most suited to.
Virtual Reality operates on the premise of total immersion, to lock out if possible everything on the outside world, to exist only in the current virtual environment. Of course this is not yet totally possible with today’s current virtual technology as a lot of people cannot even stay in the virtual zone for long periods of time without throwing up.
Let’s say the Virtual Reality gets to the level where it is at least stable in terms of equipment, software and price. That almost everyone (in general) can afford it and use it at home for practice or casual play. It would be obvious that the best games VR can be applied to are those that portray simulated far-off environments and battle arenas that portray a First Person Perspective. The best gaming environment that would come to mind would be FPS or First Person Shooters.
VR once perfected is soooo… perfect for FPS. Contestants would gather in the E-sports venue, wear their VR equipment and duke it out on a virtual battlefield. The environment could place them virtually anywhere from a troubled war-zone on the planet to the far reaches of space. While the players are locked in the virtual world, the audience will be able to watch them through huge display devices or with the personal VR equipment they have. This however may take a little while as the military seems to be the only ones who can currently afford to use this kind of advanced technology for training purposes.
Augmented Reality is similar to VR in that it can display virtual objects and worlds. However, AR does not remove you from your real and current surroundings. It simply super-imposes the virtual information onto it. This makes AR applicable to games where it would be better to view and interact with the game world and ones environment at the same time. This would be perfect for board games that can be displayed animatedly on a table via the AR device or a holographic projector.
Board games like Chess or Card Games come to mind and so does RTS- MOBA. Team Based Real Time Strategy games. In an E-sports environment, this would probably need a huge table or massive platform with an equally capable holo-projector. Team members would have their AR devices which they can wear or use to move their pieces and build their bases on the platform for all to see. An attack in real-time would live the audience literally glued to the board as they hold their breath for the outcome being displayed for them by the holo-projector.
E-sports do not only involve teams of players but includes one-on-one battles as well. Some conservative sport games would be the likes of chess and of course fencing. Wrestling used to be one-on-one until they introduced all those scary guys from the WWF and invented the Tag Team.
For E-sports however, these would be the Fighting Games. The Kick-Ass-Karate-Chop Chop my fingers are hurting and my controller is shaking games. Even on one-on-one challenge console and controller games like this, the Tag Team is ever present giving the player the option or requirement to use an alternate character to fight ones opponent. Again, applying the principles of AR, everyone will be able to see what’s happening on the table or life-sized platform where the two digital warriors engage in bloody hand-to-hand, kick-to-kick or whatever weapon or power ups they possess.
At the end of the round and one of the warriors is on the verge of collapse, the game would announce in a bloody roar…Finish Him!!! The victor delivers his final blow as the crowd jumps up and cheers all over the massive arena.
Are both AR and VR the future of E-sports? In one way or the other, You Betcha!!!