Ubisoft’s VR Experience Blends Board Games with Social Media

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The resurgence of board gaming culture is undeniable now between the flood of Kickstarter projects and its tremendous presence online. I’m into them myself! As more and more of our social interactions move online, board games are a great reason to actually get together more often with friends.

But, if you’re like IGN’s Alana Pierce, the people you want to play with could be across the world from you. I have a group I play with in Colorado, but my brother got me interested in games when I was young, and he’s still on the east coast. I’m sure I’m not alone in this situation, and VR might offer a possible solution.

Ubisoft showcased a game called Werewolves Within that they’re releasing for all 3 major VR platforms as a unique take on a social VR experience. Where most of the projects being shown off for the upcoming VR space specialize in immersing an individual in a unique world, Werewolves Within basically brings you and your friends to a fantasy setting sitting around a campfire.

There’s a game there, but the main promise from this experience is a VR chat room. You can easily talk to your friends all over the world in a cool setting while playing a simple and fun game. The software also allows you gesture and even attempts to match the facial expression of your character with what it thinks you actually look like in real life.

Werewolves Within is the first product of its kind that I’m aware of and has huge potential for future applications. Gaming is at the forefront of VR news right now, but the technology can do much more. We’re only scratching the surface of the industries that it could be employed in if the tech is widely adopted. This is a great example of VR bridging the gap between gaming and social media.

Hopefully this will plant the seed for all kinds of ideas building on this, including a ton of board game adaptations for online VR play. I’ve never played any pen and paper RPGs, but I can only imagine the potential for something like this VR experience in that arena.

Virtual reality has huge implications in the future, especially once we’re a few generations into the technology and it becomes more accessible to the everyday user. Right now, we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of version 1.0 of a brand new technology with huge potential to disrupt multiple industries, this is not something that happen often. We’ve seen a few different uses so far, mostly showcasing how the tech can transport you to a fantastic world. Ubisoft has shown us a whole new side of the potential with Werewolves Within.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is excited to see what comes next for social virtual reality experiences, and what developers come up with for VR next.

What do you want to see in a social VR experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of the UbiBlog, Video courtesy of IGN.com

Why I Am So Fascinated With the State of Video Games Right Now

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All of my life, I have always associated a high value with experiences. Hiking, biking, travel, and so on have always been well worth my time because they offered something personal that I could reflect on for the rest of my life. I have also always been interested in video games, more so when I was younger for the social aspect of playing with friends, but my interest has had resurgence recently.

When I was younger, I was mostly interested in video games to compete with my brother and friends. They were a good time and offered a common interest to bridge that gap between myself and people that I may not have gotten to know any other way. I was a Nintendo kid and when I look back at the games I played, they seemed much simpler than they are now, although they were in no way simple. Some of those games stand the test of time and are still seen as great today. Get through a stage to beat a boss, fight against other players, win the race, get the highest score, my interest was always in the competition; whether I was facing off against an especially tough stage or against my friends. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s still one of the largest reasons people experience games today, and I love a close game anytime.

As I have matured, so has the video game industry. I was lucky enough to be born in 1988, not too far myself from the birth of the industry. I also had an older brother who likely kick started my gaming from a young age as a common interest. Since then, I have always been interested in gaming, though sometime it was placed far on the back-burner as other interests took the spotlight. With my newly rekindled interest, I’ve been able to appreciate the tremendous changes that the industry had gone through. In the recent months that I’ve been investing time in games, it has become clear that video games have become something much different than what people would typically expect.

Much like my values that started off this post, video games seem to focus on the unique experience more now than ever before. In so many ways, the term video game no longer suits the medium, bringing about the forever ongoing discussion of what makes something a game and the arguments about what is and what is not. There are games available today suited for almost any interest and, as game development becomes more approachable and affordable, there are also a huge variety of games built around the idea of sharing a personal experience. That experience may allow the player to take part in something they may not have been able to any other way or offer something that the player can personally identify with.

I listened to an episode of the podcast Reply All today that talked about a “game” that has received a fair amount of press since the demo emerged in 2014. I put the term in quotes for good reason. The game was developed by a grieving father and is inspired by the experience he had with his child who was born ill and soon developed terminal cancer. The game, That Dragon, Cancer, is a memorial to his son developed with help from his wife, children, and a few other developers who were captivated by his story and wanted to see it though to completion.

There are game like elements to the experience, some of the scenes offer tasks for the players to complete, but the result cannot be changed. The goal of the experience is not to win, it is a memorial meant to share the experience that these people had taking care of their son in the short time they had the opportunity to do so with anyone who is interested. It sounds like a truly beautiful tapestry depicting these parents love and heartbreak when facing a situation that is not winnable.

Comparing Super Mario Bros or the Legend of Zelda with That Dragon, Cancer wouldn’t yield many, if any at all, similarities. Yet, these are both video games that allow players to take a hands on approach to a situation and add their own input and form to the experience.

All video games do offer interactive experiences, but the diversity of these experiences has exploded since I was introduced to games and they can offer nearly anything now, from surviving in a prehistoric landscape to facing the reality of caring for a terminally ill infant. As defeating and saddening that experience would be, the ability to share it with the world is tremendous. “Games” like this display the true potential of the medium far beyond practicing shooting your friends for points, though there’s nothing wrong with some Call of Duty to blow off some steam.

Building experiences and allowing players to find their way through them could offer each and every one of us a viewpoint that we could not access any other way and give us a perspective on the world like no other medium is able to. The potential for these interactive experiences is incredible and I am so excited to see how games develop in the near future and beyond.

There’s nothing wrong with just playing for fun either, I can’t get enough car soccer myself, thanks Psyonix!

Image courtesy www.thatdragoncancer.com

What was just a Patagonia Commercial…

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Yvon Chouinard’s Patagonia Commercial for the Dirtbag Diaries

Today, I put on an episode of the Dirtbag Diaries, a great podcast you should probably check out, and it, like all of the episodes, started with a commercial for Patagonia. In the commercial, Yvon Chouinard talks about his early life and the inception of his company. In the interview based commercial, he says that as a teenager, he was young and confused about what he wanted out of his life, a place all teenagers end up at one point or another. Then, at the age of 16, he took a road trip to Wyoming and, for the first time in his life, saw mountains in the Wind River Range, and everything started coming together.

Yvon Chouinard’s Youth and Experience

I looked into him a bit and found on his Wikipedia page that he was born in 1938, so when he was 16 it was 1954. It’s a cliche to say that they were simpler times, but they were in some regards. Imagine that you’re a young person confused about life in general and then you hear some stories and take a long drive and discover something as emotional and tremendous as a mountain. That would be an incredibly powerful experience for anyone, if they had never before laid eyes on any form of a mountain. Then I thought, has the internet taken away our chance at an experience like this one?

 

The entire web is filled to the brim with beautiful photos taken on other peoples adventures that they want to share. But imagine not being able to see just about any sight in the world with a few clicks? What if you actually had to plan and adventure to see the beauty of the world for yourself?

 

Obviously, seeing a mountain online is not exactly like seeing one in person, but think about if before you had seen a sight like that for yourself, you had only heard stories and only had only your imagination to illustrate. What would that be like….

 

Photo Credit: http://www.treehugger.com/treehugger-radio/the-th-interview-yvon-chouinard-founder-of-patagonia-part-two.html