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Exploring Virtual Worlds: The Intersection of Gaming and Virtual Reality Beyond Esports

Join us on a trip beyond standard gaming as we explore the area where games and virtual reality meet, opening up new worlds.

Gaming and Virtual Reality Beyond Esports

Virtual reality and augmented gaming experiences might seem like modern-day ideas, but the technology has been around for many decades. In fact, we’d have to go back all the way to the 1960s to find the first VR headsets. The so-called Sword of Damocles was developed in 1968, although this formative piece of VR tech was connected directly to a computer, rather than boasting the integrated cameras of today. However, it wouldn’t be until the late 1980s that VR technology became commercially available. Even then, the tech on offer was unreliable, to say the least.

It might have taken a while, but the gap between virtual reality and imagination is now smaller than ever. Below, we’ll explore how virtual reality is reshaping gaming, enhancing player experiences, and bringing a new dimension to the world of esports.

Video Games and Virtual Reality: A Brief History

Although the concept of virtual reality had been discussed as early as the late 1800s, its applications for video games didn’t emerge until the 1960s. However, despite a few shaky prototypes, VR headsets would remain an unattainable prospect until the 1990s.

Video Games and Virtual Reality

It wouldn’t be until the 2010s and 2020s that bonafide VR headsets would become readily available, with the likes of the Oculus Rift, META Quest, and Samsung Gear VR hitting shelves. The technology has fared particularly well on console platforms, with Sony’s PlayStation VR proving particularly successful.

But these weren’t the headsets gamers could get their hands on. In the early 1990s, it was the SEGA VR that was exciting gamers across the world. While a working prototype made its exhibition debut in 1993, it would never be released commercially. Sony did manage to bring a line of headsets to market in the late 1990s, with the head-mountedGlasstron giving gamers a taste of what was possible with VR. The Glasstron proved moderately successful in Japan, with half a dozen models released from 1996 to 1998. Sadly, the game was only compatible with a handful of titles, limiting the appeal of the unit.

The Age of VR

Despite a slight dip compared to previous years, sales of VR headsets are still impressive. In 2023, more than 7.7 million headsets were sold, with the market expected to bounce back over the next couple of years.

While it’s taken many decades, technological advancements have finally made it possible for video game developers to leverage the full potential of virtual reality

and create fully immersive worlds. Huge leaps in graphical fidelity and lighting enhancements mean that VR game developers can produce environments largely indistinguishable from the real thing.

Just about every genre has been given the virtual reality treatment, with many long-running franchises unveiling VR-enabled titles. In 2023 alone, we saw the release of Assassin’s Creed Nexus, Gran Turismo 7, and Resident Evil Village.

In 2023, it was a PlayStation title that would dominate the VR chart, with the rhythm-based music game, Beat Saber, coming out on top. Since being released, the game is thought to have generated more than $250 million in revenues.

Although there’s been a slight slowdown in the market recently, 2024 looks set to be a big year for virtual reality gaming. Stranger Things VR and Swarm 2 have already been met with a positive response, while VR fans can look forward to titles including Soul Covenant, Attack on Titan, and Taskmaster before the year is out. However, these games are just the tip of the iceberg. Many gamers are excitedly counting down the days until the release of Skydance’s Behemoth, which looks set to be a genre-defining fantasy epic.

VR Enhancements for Esports Audiences

It’s not just everyday gamers who benefit from virtual reality. It’s becoming increasingly common to see virtual reality utilized by esports organizers. Esports are a popular entertainment option for online audiences, with more than 532 million tuning in to watch esports in 2022 alone.

While the internet makes esports viewing incredibly accessible, nothing comes close to the thrill of seeing a grand final played out in a stadium. However, virtual reality comes close. Virtual reality products like VR Esport Arena are helping organizers replicate the authentic atmosphere of a stadium experience for online viewers. Can’t make it to the latest League Championship Series? Soon enough, you’ll probably find yourself swamped by VR experiences. In the meantime, you can keep on top of the action remotely. For the latest LCS schedule click here.

What’s Next for Gaming VR?

Over the next few years, expect more and more titles to receive VR-first releases. The esports sector is also likely to capitalize on the technology, with affordable VR hardware and high-speed internet connections making it possible for everyday audiences to enjoy immersive experiences. However, it’s the prospect of augmented reality that’s the most exciting. Offering boundless applications for video game development, AR looks set to redefine the nature of gaming entirely.

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