The future of gaming
By Richard Hage
There was a time in my life when the terms “immersion” and “augmented reality” would have never been used to describe a video-game experience. I remember my family receiving our first gaming console, which was the original Nintendo Entertainment System. That machine, along with the two games we owned for it, was the beginning of a whole new world for me. I recall becoming excited at the prospect of manipulating a digital character, and having an affect on a virtual world.
Of course, these days we hold games to a much higher standard than we did 30 years ago. Somebody pitching a game similar to the original “Super Mario Brothers” today would definitely have to bring more to the table to be taken seriously at all. The future of gaming has always been something that excites me deeply, and I pride myself on keeping up on the latest gaming technology.
I stumbled across two things in particular that piqued my interest more than anything has in a long time. One thing I have always been interested in is virtual/augmented reality. I had a chance as a teen to try out a VR headset, and was quite disappointed. The image was fuzzy, if visible at all. There was no sense of slipping this device on and instantly being transported to another world, which of course is what I imagine perfect VR to be.
A few friends of mine turned me on to a device known as the Oculus Rift, which is an extremely sophisticated (and expensive) piece of virtual reality gear. It looks much like other virtual reality headsets, but looks are often deceiving. Most other conventional VR headsets give the user a field of vision (FOV) of around 40°. The Oculus Rift, however, expands that to a massive 110° FOV. The rift also features ultra-low latency head tracking, which basically means that when you move your head, the image moves at the same speed, making for an augmented reality experience like no other.
We are on the cusp of a world where all games will have the ability to utilize full, clear, enveloping augmentation. I am particularly excited to see what implementation holographic images will have in this emerging market. The development of new technologies to enhance the experience a gamer has is an extremely profitable venture. This is no longer a world where your video-game experience is confined by the bounds of a screen, but rather by the limits of peoples imagination. This brings me to the Illumiroom.
Illumiroom is a proof-of-concept system developed by Microsoft for use with the X-Box One Kinect. What it essentially does is use both the Kinect device and a high-end projector to augment, or change, the room around your TV screen. Obviously there are quite a few ways to utilize this, and so far Microsoft has only really mentioned a few. Since this is an article on gaming I will try to stick to that aspect of it's use.
For starters, imagine having your game-screen projected around your television, allowing the game world to “overflow” those boundaries. This allows the user to make the most out of the wall behind their TV set. Another use of this product is creating “illusions”, which use the projector to augment the real-world. Instead of bringing the game-world out of your set, imagine turning the furniture and walls around your television into a cartoon. The possibilities of use for this are literally endless, leaving it up to the imagination of both the users and the next game developers. Frankly, I am more excited about the future of gaming now than ever before.