Games engineering: Virtual and Augmented reality
the future of humanity
One of the most popular hobbies nowadays is video gaming. Initially, this industry mainly targeted male teenagers, providing them mostly with shooter games, but this changed over the years. With more than 2.3 billion gamers of all genders across the globe in 2018, the global games Market income is growing exponentially with a revenue reaching $137.9 billion . This growth was primarily affected by the entrance of virtual reality hardware such as HTC Vive allowing the creation of a new game category known as VR games, shortly followed by Augmented Reality games. New adapted games were later on released, which are mainly simulations of real-life events. As a result, many scientific and also non-scientific communities were interested in this new type of gaming as it may be useful in their respective fields.
Most of the experts consider AR and VR the future of humankind as they will become one with the human being, hence a number of investors appeared. However, a lot of artists criticize this new life underlining the negative aspects of this technology in their work but these scientific advancements are inevitable . Thanks to its practical usage in simulating complex nerve structures, for example, surgeries will be safer and more precise. Therefore, games development will be used in almost every known field fastly evolving the human race.
II. Gaming and economy
These last few years a new type of sport emerged: electronic sports or eSports or in other words video games competitions. This new discipline has appeared in the ‘80s in arcades where players compete against each other aiming to beat the highest score in a game. Requiring high-level skills and a lot of experience Pro gaming demands full dedication time and money wise to be a top competitor. Playing in these tournaments is similar to real sport competitions needing full concentration and a warming up before each game with a hefty prize pool for the winners [3",4]. Progamers even have their own fan base watching them all over the world. Therefore, Olympic Organizers of Paris 2024 Olympic games are seriously discussing the inclusion of eSports to the Games .
There are many ways to make gaming a profession. On the first hand, streaming platforms like Twitch allow every person with an Internet connection to broadcast live as they pass their day playing while talking to fans and subscribers, giving them tips and tricks. Viewers support their favorite streamers through money donation or monthly subscription so that may continue to make live content. On the other hand, really complex games like Entropia Universe enable players to have monthly income from their activities in-game, after some time and money investment because its in-game currency is tradable for real money.
Many companies organize world championships to make a profit selling virtual tickets to watch the games live online, T-shirts of characters and Pro players and exclusive in-game items. With an estimated revenue of $906 million from eSport alone , these big numbers attracted a lot of individuals and companies to invest in gaming, or in other words, in AR and VR as they are the future of gaming.
III. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality games made their first appearance in 2016 allowing gamers to dive in a new environment without leaving their house thanks to special goggles like HTC vive or OCULUS Rift headsets and a computer to run the game. The visual and auditory feedback, produced by the headsets, incorporates the players in a new environment which can be a real-world replication or a fantastical simulation. VR games are usually a narration of a character life, who can be a real character like a well-known mafia boss or a fictive creature like a dragon or a fairy, which the player controls allowing him to interact with his virtual entourage.
As a new gaming technology, virtual reality did not only caught the attention of many investors but also of the research community as it may be a useful tool to facilitate and accelerate the research process. Curiosity, for example, a rover sent by NASA to Mars, captured high-resolution pictures of Mars terrain and horizon through its cameras which were sent to Earth for analysis. Martian geologists, unlike Earth geologists, were having difficulties to study and visualize Mars terrain as they had only 2D imagery from Curiosity which hinders their progress. Therefore, In collaboration with Microsoft, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists developed Onsight. This software recreates the Martian terrain from all the images sent by Curiosity and renders a 3D environment of the red planet surface .
In addition to that, VR is also popular among doctors, biologists and chemists as it may function as a tool that helps them visualize ‘’full-atom models of complex biomolecular structures to explore structural folds or compare protein-ligand interactions’’ [8, p. 3816]. As a result, biochemists will be able to recreate, reconstruct and edit complex molecule easily and efficiently allowing them to research, for example, a cure for disease faster.
IV. Augmented reality
After the appearance of virtual reality, a new gaming technology shortly followed known as Augmented Reality. Very similar to VR, AR allows the players to interact with virtual objects. Whereas, AR environment is not completely virtual. Based on the real-world, AR augments our natural entourage with virtual objects making them a part of our environment. Today’s AR games mostly run on new Generation as they are equipped with powerful microprocessors and high-resolution cameras, which allow a fast rendering of the virtual objects on a Smartphone’s screen.
Aside from gaming, AR is also invading other fields. For example, the automotive industry presented, these last few years, a virtual augmented windshield. These high-tech windshield project see-through pieces of information making driving more comfortable and safer. The type of information may differ. In hazardous weather condition, for example, where visibility on the road is almost zero, the lines of the road will be displayed on the windshield. Furthermore, a warning will be displayed when the car detects a person or an object on the road that may endanger the driver or the pedestrians in densely foggy weather . In addition to that, simple information appears when passing a restaurant or a monument giving the driver a short description or reviews of that point of interest.
Many investors are also supporting the education aspect of AR. Star Walk, for instance, is an App that identifies constellations and many other celestials bodies that are captured with the Smartphone camera. While looking to the sky, more detailed descriptions of the targeted sector appear allowing the user to have more information about it.
Moreover, many AR tools were developed to facilitate the gain of experience for medical students as it is very important for their career and hard to gain while studying . Thanks to this AR tools, apprentice surgeons may practice very complex procedures on puppets before performing it on real patients lowering the risk of any fatal mistakes.
As games engineering developed, many related technologies like virtual and augmented reality appeared. These new technologies attracted a lot of investors that supported games development and used them in many other fields like the educational or medical field. Nowadays, AR and VR have many new uses, aside from gaming, like assisting and accelerating the research process of creating new cures. Few years from now VR and AR will have many applications in many fields allowing humanity to discover more secrets that the universe holds.