VIR­TU­ALLY DREAMING

Turn­ing fan­tasy to re­al­ity.

HWM (Singapore) - - THINK - by Sale­hud­din Husin

CES isn’t ex­actly the best in­di­ca­tion of where gam­ing trends are headed. For that, we’d have to wait for E3 later in the year. How­ever, we can see in terms of tech­ni­cal di­rec­tion that gam­ing com­pa­nies are ac­tively look­ing for the next big thing that’ll up the level of en­gage­ment in gam­ing. And the big buzz­word seems to be Vir­tual Re­al­ity (VR).

VR isn’t ex­actly a new trend. High pro­file projects like the Ocu­lus Rift have con­tin­u­ously been in the lime­light for the past two years with no real con­sumer progress to date. Of­ten com­pared to the failed push by TV mak­ers to make 3D en­ter­tain­ment main­stream, VR feels like a sim­i­lar gim­mick that has great po­ten­tial on the out­set, but a very limited or re­stric­tive ap­pli­ca­tion in real life.

And yet, ma­jor in­vest­ments in VR con­tinue to hap­pen. Is there re­ally some­thing in it that we haven’t seen? The big­gest news so far isn’t any new­fan­gled head­set, but rather Razer’s ini­tia­tive to push for a proper and open sourced VR plat­form.

In­stead of a frag­mented VR so­lu­tion that puts even more re­stric­tions to an al­ready closed en­vi­ron­ment, an open source base will al­low ev­ery­one ac­cess to the same set of tools hope­fully with the goal of re­al­iz­ing its po­ten­tial reach quicker.

The fact that Razer is push­ing for an open source plat­form and has sup­port from in­dus­try gi­ants like Unity Tech­nolo­gies (the cre­ators of the Unity en­gine) and star­tups like Six­ense (which is de­vel­op­ing an in­no­va­tive VR in­ter­ac­tion sys­tem that prom­ises very lit­tle lag and 1:1 move­ment ac­cu­racy), may make the tech­nol­ogy a real game changer and some­thing worth keep­ing an eye on. Of course, we’re still wait­ing for the Holodeck to be­come re­al­ity in­stead of hav­ing to wear dorky VR head­gear.

An­other trend for gam­ing that’s on the verge of be­com­ing main­stream is stream­ing, both lo­cal de­vice and cloud-based. Again, this con­cept isn’t a new one, but it’s only with cur­rent broad­band and net­work ad­vance­ments that ac­cept­able lev­els of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity and en­gage­ment al­low game stream­ing a chance of suc­cess.

Sony’s Playsta­tion Now ser­vice is launch­ing in the US in a few months, as will NVIDIA’s GRID. Pi­o­neers such as On­Live and Gaikai (now un­der the Sony um­brella) are con­stantly per­fect­ing their tech­nol­ogy, which can eas­ily be seen in how Re­mote Play has evolved from the near un­playable mess it was in early PSP games to the rel­a­tively smooth ver­sion run­ning on cur­rent Xpe­rias now.

It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see which of the two trends will sur­vive as the in­dus­try is no­to­ri­ously fickle in its tech­nol­ogy adop­tion.

"THE FACT THAT RAZER IS PUSH­ING FOR AN OPEN SOURCE PLAT­FORM AND HAS SUP­PORT FROM IN­DUS­TRY GI­ANTS LIKE UNITY TECH­NOLO­GIES AND STAR­TUPS LIKE SIX­ENSE MAKE IT A REAL GAME CHANGER.”

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