It's an interesting question, no doubt, but the question of just which technology is going to have more impact in terms of gaming—virtual reality or augmented reality—is one that should be front and center for more than a few gamers out there. We're rapidly approaching the point where both of these technologies are going to make a huge difference in the way we play games, but figuring out just which is going to be the real game changer is a tall order to say the least.
Virtual reality is seeing a serious comeback of late, powered mainly by the force of the Oculus Rift head-mounted display system. This not only poses the impressive opportunity to get us face-on with current games, but also opens up the possibility for games specifically designed to the virtual reality concept. That's exciting enough to more than a few gamers out there, but throw in the recent rush to open-world gaming, and—when coupled with the Oculus Rift—poses a serious set of possibilities for gamers out there.
But the concept of augmented reality gaming, meanwhile, is really starting to gain ground in the form of “Ingress,” a game that's making some major inroads. With over a million downloads, and a host of live events making the rounds, “Ingress” is showing its popularity. A game in which gamers use smartphones, PCs and Google Glass systems to interact with a gaming world overlaid over the real world, “Ingress” has quite a few gamers paying attention. With some gamers taking it far enough to actually tattoo the “Ingress” logo on their bodies outright, and a variety of merchandise—comic books, e-books and others—showing up around the property, the idea of “Ingress” being one of the biggest properties to show up in some time is unusual, and shows how popular the idea can be.
The question of which is the bigger development, well, may be a bit disingenuous. In fact, suggesting that the two together may well constitute the biggest development of all. Virtual reality has been the dream of gamers since the days of “Dactyl Nightmare” and the mid-1990s. But augmented reality has behind it two growing movements, those of the rise of mobile devices—including tablets and smartphones—as well as the rise of wearable tech. Essentially, with such devices, a game could be started most anywhere, and stands to make the social revolutions of mobile devices even more gamer-friendly. Yet by like token, with the improvements being made to virtual reality, it's getting to the point where home gaming will only improve. Moreover, add such technology to movies, and the ever-developing home theater, and the end result is a very positive one for virtual reality. Couple the two and there's the potential that virtual reality could get such a boost that it not only gets out of the house, but it becomes portable. Virtual reality in the public eye could be a real development, the kind of thing that puts viewers in a movie, and players in a game.
So which is the biggest? Neither really; each has its own advantages. But bringing the two together, now that could be a real winner. It will be interesting to see where the two branches go, and if they ever ultimately come together. But the developments themselves should prove exciting.
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