18 February 2019

Living The Future: Immersive Gaming At Home


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These days, we really are living in the future. Looking back fondly on to our gaming memories of a youth filled with Sega Mega Drives it's hard to believe what gaming is rapidly becoming - a truly immersive experience that our childhood selves could only have dreamed of. Virtual Reality technology has developed rapidly, to the point where players can really feel as if they've crossed the boundary into another world. Even in the comfort of our own homes, we can now become completely absorbed in the environment of our favourites, whether that's the intricate world-building of Overwatch or simply enjoying the best driving games with a few friends. But how are the latest developments in the world of VR shaping our gaming experiences? What can we expect in the near future? And how can you get the ultimate immersive gaming experience at home?

A Neural Connection

At the moment, we are at the stage of integrating headsets, bodysuits and other add-ons to create the experience. However, scientists are currently working on ways to forge a direct connection with our brains - a sort of enhanced consciousness the likes of which have long been foreshadowed in fiction and shows such as Black Mirror. A lot of VR technology is so lifelike it can already have a very real impact on the emotions. Could new gaming technology go one step further and tap directly into human consciousness to create a mind and body immersion into virtual worlds? It has already been suggested that frequent gaming has the potential to change the physical makeup of a players brain, and as we discover more about how the physical structures of the cortex and the gaming experience are linked, so these discoveries can enhance the experience even further so that games will be developed which are even more immersive.

A Deeper Range Of Motion

Although we have had VR headsets for a while, a frontier left to cross is the integration of full body motion into the game environment, but with the development of Virtuix Omni, this is also right around the corner. This will provide gamers with the ability to experience full locomotion as they play with walking or running, although admittedly the technology does need further development to provide capacity for kneeling and rolling motions without disrupting the in-game experience. The answer could lie with other technology currently not being used for gaming. Wearable tech like the Xenoma e-skin has full biofeedback ability, which could easily be adapted for the world of gaming. Full room VR systems are already in existence, but unlikely to become a home entertainment solution due to the restrictive setup and the sheer amount of dedicated space they require, and the restrictions of play only within those physical dimensions. However, the solution could lie with the COATS (Controller Assisted On The Spot) system of Freedom Locomotion. The degree of bounce with controllers and headset are used to accurately determine a range of movement to guarantee total immersion during play. Increasing your speed in the game depends on how fast you jog in the real world, while your hand access is not restricted. Meanwhile, researchers at Stony Brook University have partnered with Nvidia and Adobe to manipulate the natural movement of the eye with the end goal of making a gaming experience where participants can fully explore a digital environment without running into walls or other in-game objects. These factors ensure that players interact with their virtual worlds without any kind of limitation and provides a truly open and immersive gaming experience. It would do away with unrealistic devices such as avatar teleportation, and deliver a highly natural walking experience.

Immersive Gaming At Home

With a system like Hologate, you can bring the next level of gaming to your home. It offers an advanced graphic technology paired with a small footprint that will realistically fit into most homes, and offers a multiplayer VR platform in less than 300 square feet. With award-winning graphics on a 90fps headset, there's no tell-tale buffering or lagging and no motion sickness effect. In the midst of all this technology though, there is a school of thought that true immersion is actually to be found in simplicity. Some critics argue that a well-made game with simple commands makes for an overall more immersive experience than even the cutting edge of the current cumbersome headset set up allows for. They argue that game design is the most important factor in achieving that desired ‘flow state’ where the mechanics melt away and the experience becomes paramount, and as anyone who has experienced this psychological effect when absorbed in an offline hobby like painting or woodworking will attest. However, hardcore gamers will no doubt continue to have a keen interest in those developments which will really enhance their at home play.

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