Enhanced Realism & Interactivity Change the Name of the Game

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Those who have been waiting to finally see virtual reality become a very literal reality for consumers won’t have to wait much longer. Sony unveiled what will pretty much be the consumer version of their VR headset (dubbed Playstation VR, formerly Project Morpheus) at this year’s Tokyo Game Show and fans better brace themselves for what’s coming.

The NBA has already begun taking advantage of the new technology with some show-stopping footage from this year’s All-Star Game. Also, NASCAR and the NHL are testing technology for their own leagues as well. Eventually, fans might be able to experience court-side seats from the comfort of their own homes or sit in the passenger seat of Jeff Gordon’s car.

With realism and increased social connectivity becoming the name of the game, it’s only a matter of time before gamers start to see more involvement from real people in their digital fantasies. Online leagues are the preferred mode of play for most sports game devotees and there’s nothing quite as satisfying (and sometimes as frustrating) as being able to play and interact with another person.

The table games at Betfair Casino have also looked to hyper-realistic gameplay to give them an edge over the digital competition. With an HD camera feed and interaction with a live dealer, players can recreate the look and feel of a casino or card table directly from their computers. When it comes to cards, a good dealer is a lot like a good bartender, both of them are there to take your money but they’re supposed to be fun and friendly enough to make you look forward to the process.

It may be easily overlooked, but one of the biggest gripes against online gaming is the inability to see opponents and being able to play off of a competitor’s body language or “tells.” That’s not to mention savoring the look on their face when you pull away with that big win. A panel of experts discussing the future of virtual reality at Disrupt San Francisco touched on how, despite fears that VR could increase isolation, the new technology actually increases the level of interactivity users share with other players.

“That’s one of the conceptions that people have, that you’re going to be alone. But you’re not going to be alone,” Dr. Richard Marks of Sony said at Disrupt SF. “You get the sense that people are there with you. You can reach out with your hand to somebody. You’ll be able to see their facial expression.”

Eventually we may have virtual reality functionality built into all of our favorite games, from cards to sports to shooters. Imagine exploring a massive open world like Skyrim with your own eyes or, even better, building your own through Minecraft. It’s not so far-fetched to dream of eventually feeling like you’re pacing the sidelines yourself when you play virtual manager mode in a future Madden installment.

With immersive virtual reality on the horizon, it seems like it will be only a matter of time before players will be sitting together at a virtual table and interacting with each other—despite being miles apart.