Video gaming has come on leaps and bounds since the first computer game (Spacewar!) was created in 1962. Now, things are about to get even more exciting for the millions of people that play games online. How? Through the growth of VR. Below I’ve explained how VR is going to make online gamers feel better about themselves, give them a chance to be sports stars, and enjoy fully immersive experiences from the comfort of their own homes.
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Avatars will help people improve their self-image
Selecting the appearance of your avatar has been a feature of online gaming for a long, long time. Gamers create avatars that match their own appearance or a vision of how they want to be. As VR becomes a feature of online gaming, the focus on avatar design and style will become even greater, and that will help enhance people’s self-image.
Ready Player One set the tone for how VR will change the way players connect with their avatar. In the film (and book), gamers build a virtual version of themselves – picking the clothes they wear, the height of their cheekbones, and the cut of their hair. Of course, these are all things that can be done in online gaming, but the point is that VR allows players to assume the form of their avatar – they become them.
While you might think the idea of people using VR gaming to boost their self-image is a new phenomenon, avatar self-identification is already a part of scholarly thought. In her 2016 paper on the topic of avatar self-identification, Melissa Watts found there to be a “substantial relationship between perceived social capital and self-esteem in the real world.” As VR strengthens the bond between player and avatar, expect this relationship to become even stronger in the future.
Rise of the virtual sports star allows anyone to be an athlete
Part of the appeal of sports games is that people of limited athletic ability, but limitless love for their game, can do the things they would never be able to in real life. One of the most significant ways that VR will change online gaming for the better is that it will create the virtual sports star – increasing the chances of anyone being able to become one.
The genesis for the virtual sports star began with the career mode in games. EA Sports may not be the first company to allow gamers to select a player and then take them from wide-eyed beginner to world-class sports star, but it set the benchmark. VR has the potential to take the career mode in games to another level, as this example from the world of soccer helps to demonstrate:
In the video, our regular Joe switches bodies with Cristiano Ronaldo to become the biggest soccer star on the planet. What VR will do is allow sports fans to step into their avatar and become the biggest star on the globe in their chosen field. It’s not a question of it being possible to create a VR sports player (it will happen), the question is whether there’s a market for it. As you’ll see from the viewing figures of the most popular YouTube gamers, the answer is yes.
Online poker becomes (almost) as real as going to a casino
Online poker is phenomenally popular. It’s become accepted as a game of skill in the U.S., U.K., China, India, and across Western and Eastern Europe. Millions of people across the world play online poker but while it offers quick and realistic gameplay, what it can’t do is give you the experience that comes from gambling in a casino – VR is going to change that.
Already, there is an enormous choice of online casinos which allow you to play video or live poker – indeed, it couldn’t be simpler to find U.S. online casinos or U.K. online casinos offering live poker games – facing off against other players and with a dealer. But while these online casino games give you a sense of what it’s like to play poker in a casino, you never forget that you’re sat in front of a screen playing your hands. By strapping on a VR headset you can step inside a real casino, enhancing the fun you get from online poker.
VR poker is not a far-fetched concept. Casinos have already cottoned on to the potential that VR offers to broaden their appeal, by giving gamers a real gambling experience from their home. The battle that casinos could face is in convincing the people who only play in live casinos that a virtual version offers the same enjoyment. But already that battle is being won, with reviewers claiming that VR poker is so good that it’s close to the real thing.
Some other ways VR will change online gaming for the better
The potential for VR to change the face of online gaming is enormous, perhaps even limitless. I’ve touched on some of the key ways that this technology is going to improve things for gamers, but some of the other examples include:
Online gaming to be as much about relaxation as interaction
Imagine taking a virtual holiday. You could travel the world without ever leaving your chair, drinking in new cultures, experiencing sights, and visiting tropical paradises without needing to get the jabs. That’s what VR is going to bring you.
Games to get the same communal boost inspired by the Wii
The Nintendo Wii changed the way people play games, making it a communal and familial experience that allowed grandparents to compete against their grandchildren. VR will do the same thing, as people group together to really share the experience of playing online games.
VR has been getting gamers excited for decades. As the 21st century leaves its teens, this technology is going to take online gaming into new realms that make their lives simpler, more fun, and better. Are you excited? Because I sure am!