Augmented Reality (AR) gaming truly burst into the awareness of the general public with the release of Pokémon Go in 2016. This fresh take on gaming, incorporating fictional characters in a real-world setting, has developers thinking along new lines. The possibilities for AR technology are set to take the world of gaming to places previously only dreamt of as it continues to be refined and developed. Expect to see games that incorporate AR improve app store rankings as users become increasingly drawn to this format.
Transforming the World Around Us
The innovative technology allowing Pokémon Go to add virtual elements to real-world environments via a smartphone has since been further developed for smart glasses and head-mounted displays such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. This has allowed game developers to explore ways in which a user’s actual setting can be integrated with game characters and fictional storylines. It’s also affecting how the player will interact with the game throughout play.
The capability has near limitless possibilities as AR technology allows for games to be played almost anywhere, with each new setting providing a new and different experience for the player.
Thanks to AR games like Pokémon Go, more people are discovering the possibilities for playing games as a window to virtual and augmented reality.
This is driving development of AR and VR games, and similar experiences utilizing technology that is much further advanced than the Atari console games of the 70’s. In turn, it is engaging a generation with higher expectations for their online, virtual, and augmented experiences, in a new world of computer gaming.
New Devices Lead to New Ways to Play
Microsoft’s HoloLens is making strides towards a much more fluent AR experience in an individual’s physical space. Although still in its development stages, the headset is more advanced than others on the market. The potential for this new augmented reality wearable technology is also lending to building anticipation for the games that will eventually exist on AR platforms.
The Most Anticipated AR Games
One of the games building this excitement for the new form of computer gaming is Young Conker, an AR adaption of the British game developer Rare’s platform title Conker. This game relies on figuring out a way to help other characters by completing a sequence of challenges including defeating a boss, solving puzzles, gathering objects, and racing opponents.
Young Conker, on the other hand, will be free to run throughout your physical space, collecting virtual coins and battling enemies whilst navigating the precarious edges and surfaces of your home.
Another new game in the AR space, Fragments, will use a gamer’s physical environment to hide clues and host virtual characters as they help the player to solve a high-tech crime thriller.
In each case, the AR technology scans the player’s immediate environment before adapting the plot and storyline to the physical space. This results in a new experience for each environment even when the same level or game is being played.
Along with action, adventure, crime and racing games, HoloLens will bring new life to casual games, like casino titles. Slot machines, online bingo, titles such as Dragon Rising and even the classic Space Invaders will all receive a new lease of life as developers employ AR to manipulate the mechanics to make them more interactive and engaging to gamers with higher expectations of technology.
The Biggest Obstacles
Despite the high level of excitement around the possibilities for AR gaming, Microsoft and other developers of head-mounted displays for AR gaming have a few wrinkles to work out before these devices become readily available. Thanks to the combination of a real-life environment with virtual characters and objects, there is a risk of motion sickness or nausea that is often associated with virtual reality applications and games. Also, in specifically the case of the head mounted gear, you’re essentially carrying a computer on your head, which comes with the issues of power and heat management.
Currently, HoloLens has a limited battery life – approximately 3 hours. Apps are restricted to around 900MB of memory, and holograms are best viewed at certain distances, but the biggest concern is comfort and safety, not only of the user but also the device itself.
The 1.27-pound device carried on the player’s head results in the heat-producing CPU pressing right into the cranium. Even if this doesn’t cause discomfort for the user the hardware has built-in thermal limits, which if exceeded will shut down the device.
Despite there being a little ways to go for AR devices to become useable gaming hardware, the possibilities for games and other uses of augmented reality are clearly set to change the way we view the world. As David Dedeine, founder of Asobo Studios (which developed both HoloLens games Young Conker and Fragments), says, “There is a continent of gaming, and VR is just a new peninsula on that continent; AR is an entirely new continent.”
About the Author: Australian born, Vic moved to the UK in 2004, travelling through parts of SE Asia on the way. She has a long-standing interest in technology, environmental, equality and human rights issues, and of course language, and thrives on writing about related topics. Her work has been published on a wide range of websites and printed media, and she strives to craft content that informs, excites and supports us all to create a kinder world.