Speaking at DreamlandXR
CES is the global stage for introducing new technologies to the world and DreamlandXR, a festival that runs nearby at the same time, focuses specifically on the XR tech and immersive technology. These events took place in Las Vegas this week, making this city the perfect location to talk about emerging trends in virtual reality and VR esports. I had the opportunity to speak at DreamlandXR about VR esports, but more importantly, I was able to demonstrate competitive VR gaming and esports.
As we've discussed throughout the past few weeks, one thing that has become obvious with VR esports is the fact that community is essential to growth of the competitive gaming ecosystem. In fact, during the panel on XR Esports for Location Based Entertainment Venues, the panelists agreed that this is the most important factor in traditional esports as well. The perception of gamers sitting around in their parents' basement is still a misconception because, as most readers here know, gamers actually enjoy getting together socially in real life when they have the opportunity.
Right now, building community is even more important in VR than in traditional esports for two simple reasons. First, the technology is still new as far as average consumers are concerned so many people haven't tried it and some people still don't even know what VR is. Second, despite the success of the Oculus Quest, which has done wonders for getting VR into the hands - or onto the heads - of people, the population of VR users is still small, which makes the numbers of VR esports players even smaller. This makes it even more essential that those in the ecosystem support and encourage one another.
At DreamlandXR there were a few games available that lend themselves well to competitive gaming, including Chicken Waffle's Blazer League and EscapeVR's Arenaverse.
Blazer League is still in the beta phase, but players had the opportunity to play against each other at DreamlandXR. They could compete alone or on 2-person teams so we had fun switching that up for variety.
Blazer League is a disc game kind of like Tron. You use your personal disc to teleport throughout the competition platform and the disc is also your "weapon" since your goal is to throw it through other players to score points. The game is still a work in progress, but it has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing it released as part of Chicken Waffle's Baby Hands universe.
Visitors to DreamlandXR also enjoyed Arenaverse from EscapeVR. Arenaverse is a free roam experience that uses the Oculus Quest so players can literally walk all around the room with a guardian system that protects them while allowing freedom of activity.
Arenaverse can accommodate up to 12 players on teams or as individual competitors. The objective of the game is simple: Shoot your opponents more than they shoot you.
Players compete in one of two settings - Winter or Cyberpunk - across four rounds. Points accumulate throughout each round and the player or team that has the most points at the end wins. The game is great for location based fun and competition.
When it comes to introducing people to competitive esports, our goal should always be to help them have an enjoyable experience, especially when they're new to competitive gaming and possibly even the technology, as is the case with VR.
At DreamlandXR, since none of the participants had played Arenaverse previously, they all began with a level playing field against each other. We also offered prizes to players who wanted to compete against me in 2v1 or 3v1 matches. Bear in mind that I was also only introduced to this game at DreamlandXR, but it has a quick learning curve so once you play it a few times, you quickly begin to recognize strategies that will help you improve your gameplay the next time.
All sorts of people came through DreamlandXR and tried VR esports for the first time. It was exciting to see the joy in their eyes as they realized how much fun it is to be fully immersed in games that combine technology and physicality. That's the beauty of VR esports. They truly allow us to use new technologies in such a way that is engaging and healthy.
VR esports is still growing, but as the ecosystem grows, we'll continue to see communities thrive - as they do in traditional esports - and increasing numbers of players joining our ranks.