Adrian Lacey, VR Producer at Ubisoft, recently shared some thoughts with us about virtual reality, its impact on the world, and Ubisoft’s recent release, Space Junkies.
“One of the big things I find fascinating,” says Lacey, “is that we live in a 3D world yet everything we consume is flat or 2D and I think that’s a strange thing.”
The immersive experiences of virtual reality allow users to actually experience environments as if they're physically there. Increasing numbers of consumers have begun to try VR and this will likely increase in 2019 with the launch of the affordable Oculus Quest and Rift S.
“Now virtual reality allows us to explore things in 3D, work in 3D, and be entertained in 3D” Lacey continues.
In regards to esports experiences, virtual reality removes limitations many people face in real life such as age, size, physical disabilities, etc. This increases accessibility for people who might otherwise never face one another in physical reality.
“It’s a level playing field in esports now,” says Lacey. He talks about his nine-year-old daughter and says he loves the fact that she could go up against “a bloke who is 25 and 6-foot-two,” for example, yet she could still beat him.
“Here you can have these weird, different sorts of body sizes and body shapes and it’s all sort of mixed into one and that’s really cool.”
It’s a wonderful reminder of how virtual reality creates amazing possibilities.
Lacey also finds the physical side of virtual reality interesting because competitive sports always evolve over time as people push themselves to improve.
He recalls how his wife’s great-grandfather used to talk about playing soccer in the 1950s and 60s in England.
“They weren’t trained athletes,” he explains, but these guys were playing an incredibly physical sport.
In what was considered “pro” soccer in the old days, Lacey retells his in-law's stories of talented players who would go out the night before games and have a few pints. “Many barely stretched, let alone have diet plans and mental coaching.”
“As sport and soccer became more professional, more disciplined, [with] higher stakes and more organized,” he points out that “the skill-based aspect was still necessary to excel, but players, teams, clubs, and coaches also began to focus on the physical and psychological aspects of an athlete.”
Lacey says he’s excited to see the physicality VR will bring to interactive esports.
“People will train to increase their skill set and their physicality as they play,” he states.
In fact, we’ve already seen this happening in the first three seasons of the VR League. Players put in an insane amount of practice and some teams - like Onward's top NA team Globochem - put in up to 30 hours per week to prepare for competitions. Also, just like Lacey says in regards to virtual reality leveling the playing field, there already has been a tremendous variety in the types of players in regards to age, physical ability, size, etc. over the initial seasons of the VR League.
Space Junkies is the newest addition to the league and competition officially begins Sunday, April 14. The game will be featured along with Echo Arena, Echo Combat, and Onward at VR League Season 3 finals at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, UK on June 8-9.One key component of VR esports is the ability to share the games with spectators. “It’s a big, big challenge,” explains Lacey, “to show people on the outside what it looks like for players inside the game because we’re watching something flat when it’s not." "We have a caster mode," he continues, "that we have developed for ESL pro streamers and arcades." There will be several options including a first-person view, third-person view (over the shoulder), selfie view, and a free camera that allows you to choose your own angle. Although broadcaster access will only be given for events such as tournaments and it's not accessible to the general public, Lacey points out that the game has "LIV integration for player streams which is accessible by all."
"The big thing about VR is getting people playing it, just getting them to try it.”
When they do try it, however, Lacey encourages feedback about the game. The more, the better.
After all, he says, “VR is very much about working with the community. We don’t build games for ourselves. We build games for people.”
About the author:
Sonya Haskins is better known among the gaming community by the username "hasko7." She greatly enjoys playing and promoting VR esports. Sonya lives with her husband and five children in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in Northeast Tennessee.