Video games have been around since the 50’s and are in an ongoing state of ”evolution”. Gaming players and developers are constantly on the lookout to incorporate new technologies into gaming, hardware and software. Today, there are many tools available to enhance user interaction and capture human movement. Yet, most of the systems are expensive, require high maintenance and are somewhat unnatural. Gaming consoles today include a full range of motion capture devices, yet gaming popularity among motion capture games is not as high compared to ”regular” gaming. The question at hand is weather any of the Virtual Reality (VR) systems could be incorporated into gaming in the near or far future and weather such act will revolutionize gaming to another level.
In order to address this question appropriately let us divide gaming into 3 sub-categories: video games, simulation and specialize devices. We can consider video games as the mass end-user, home, gamers. These are the games that do not primely intend to simulate a real environment (although they may) but to entrain and amuse the user(s). Let us name simulation to such games (although they might be in the first category as well) that primarily intend to simulate an environment without too much external devices. This might include some motion capture device, but mostly the affordable and low-end commercial ones. The third category are the large, cave like, simulators that intend to be inline with Ivan Sutherland’s Ultimate Display. If you have not read that little short article, I highly suggest you do it now. This is the category that in my mind will not become home ”friendly” and will mostly remain as specific devices that are built for specific uses. Such uses include therapy, military training, etc.
In the category of video games, I do not see any VR system that can really revolutionize gaming experience anytime in the near future. In terms of hardware there might be small improvements, curved displays, better controllers (if possible), 3D technology and other similar hardware will come to the market very soon and will reduce to reasonable price at some point. However, system such as the data glove, Oculus rift, motion trackers and similar motion capture and output devices. They all have been around, some for a while, and yet none has taken off in a direction of being mass produced or gaming related. Although some home improved recently and cost has gone done significantly, they have yet to emerge as a new gaming experience. In addition, they require high maintenance and would fail in ”real world” living room gaming experience. I do not think any gamer would spend an hour prior to gaming calibrating a system or/and getting into full body gear. More so if after an hour of calibration the wires get tangled or the batteries need to be recharged.
Skipping to the last category I think specialize VR systems have improved tremendously over the past years and will continue to do so. With the increase use of simulation in the military and therapy environment, cave like rooms, or spheres will get more accurate and truly will come close to The Ultimate Display. The reason this large scale devices will ”grow” is because in the long run they save money and life. For military use, the ability to virtualize war like scenario will yield better soldiers and better prepare them for real world scenario. In therapy full room simulation might help in ways we simply can not today. Farther more, full room simulations have endless uses in many more fields that I wish to consider for this paper.
Simulation, to my opinion, will benefit and advance the most in the near and far future. This includes hardware such as the Wii Remote, Microsoft Kinect and the PlayStation Move. I think more and more games will come to utilize the hardware. However the greatest advancement in my mind will come from mobile gaming and augment reality. The growing gaming community at the moment is the mobile devices, namely mobile smart phones and tablets. Furthermore, there is a great niche that augment reality can fill. Bringing games outside of the virtual space and interacting with real life objects will revolutionize gaming. Using generic object, such as a box, table, wall and etc. Using augment reality can enhance an environment to a new frontier. This will require light and cheap HMD with hours of battery life time. ”Smart glasses” if it may, will be the next leap in computation and gaming. That will be a point in which we meet the Virtual and Reality, somewhere in the middle.
Now one knows what the future will truly bring. Microsoft and Sony have just lunched their new top of the line systems, but are they really that much different? Have we seen anything “new”? Sadly, no. We are looking at improvements on well built past. The future of gaming might be close, but it is not really here. At least not for me. What do you think? Is the future already here?