Gaming as a hobby evokes images of lethargic teenagers huddled over their controllers, submerged in their couch surrounded by candy bar wrappers. This image should soon hit the reset button since a more exciting version of gaming is coming. It’s called neurogaming, and it’s riding on the heels of some exponential technologies that are converging on each other. Many of these were on display recently in San Francisco at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo; a first-of-its-kind conference whose existence alone signals an inflection point in the industry.
Some day not all that far in the future, a new kind of entertainment is going to be perfected that will either be the coolest video game ever, or the media equivalent of a lethal man-made super-virus.
You can predict what that entertainment might be like just by extrapolating from technology that already exists.
You might think augmented reality is the way of the future, but really, it has its roots in the 20th century. Morton Heilig, the “Father of Virtual Reality,” patented the Sensorama Stimulator, which he called an “experience theater,” on Aug. 28, 1962. Over time, the idea of using technology to create a layer over the real world has been honed and refined and put in our palms, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones.
Most games are designed with a computer screen or television in mind – but what happens when the screen is attached to your face? What happens when your body is being tracked? There’s a lot of things that go into making virtual reality systems work, and they all fundamentally change how games are experienced and designed.
The simple act of turning a page has begun to look outdated with iPads replacing books and manuals for many working professionals. But an augmented reality display similar to Google Glasses frees up wearers’ hands by allowing them to turn virtual pages using their eyes alone.
The ultimate goal of virtual reality gaming is to convince players that they are actually the inhabitants of another world. A number of components are needed to make this a reality. While head mounted displays like the Oculus Rift bring us one step closer to feeling like we’re inside another world, there are yet more pieces to the puzzle; being able to naturally control the player-character — also referred to as body tracking or full avatar embodiment – within the game will be a massive jump in immersion compared to using the controllers of today’s video game consoles.
Augmented reality is exactly what the name implies — a medium through which the known world fuses with current technology to create a uniquely blended interactive experience. While still more or less a nascent entity in the frequently Luddite education industry, more and more teachers, researchers, and developers contribute their ideas and inventions towards the cause of more interactive learning environments. Many of these result in some of the most creative, engaging experiences imaginable, and as adherence grows, so too will students of all ages.
Valve employee talks virtual reality gaming
The future of video gaming may lie in virtual reality. No, that’s not 1996 calling; its Valve Software’s Michael Abrash, a game industry legend and one of the minds behind Quake and Doom. Abrash recently sat down for an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun and shared his thoughts on the future of gaming and potential for VR technology to change how we play games. One of the reasons the time seems right for VR to make a comeback is the Oculus Rift, a VR headset that’s got gaming luminaries like John Carmack raving and developers throwing money at it over on Kickstarter.
Apple was granted a sweeping, multipronged patent today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office — but you may need a degree in theoretical physics to divine exactly which technologies the patent is protecting. The patent, “Method for providing human input to a computer,” addresses both new and existing ways we interact with touchscreen devices, and covers everything from computer interfaces, to Kinect-style gaming and virtual-reality gloves, to touch input for vehicles.
We’re still several decades away from developing completely immersive computer simulations, but it’s not too early to dream about the ways we’ll be able to use them. Today we’re exploring the tremendous potential with new gadgets like Glass, Google’s computer glasses. But that’s just the beginning.
So, in preparation, given all the different options soon to be available, what kind of virtual reality experience will you choose?
Will it be a partial soft simulation? Or perhaps you would prefer an active communal experience? Confused? No worries, we’ll go over all your options. And in the end, you may even find that you’ll want to mix and match.