Triple AR Gaming Goodness

Playing games is intrinsic to our nature, so naturally, gaming is a great introduction to augmented reality. Below are three different ways augmented reality is being used to get our gaming fix.

AR Invaders

Shooter games were the first breakout, relatively speaking, for the nascent technology.  Yet I haven’t yet seen one that eliminates the “floating target” problem and makes the game feel immersive.  Let’s hope AR Invaders gets us further along that path.

Eclipse AR Card Game

The video could use some production value and the game play appears to be a little clunky, but they have the right idea.  I still believe Magic the Gathering and a console maker like PlayStation should team up to give their game a little 3D magic, but maybe that’s just me.  Check with Mo0n-Studio if you want to learn more about their game.

World of Warcraft Armor Project

Let’s face it, WoW is a force of gaming nature with around ten million paying subscribers.  Giving players a way to embrace their character just a little more interactively just makes sense.  You can guarantee that if AR glasses were viable and widely sold that Blizzard would be selling the service for a pretty dime.  Go here for more information.

Collectibles and Augmented Reality

It was only a matter of time.  Virtual goods make up a $1.4 Billion (that’s with a ‘B’ folks) business and the demand is growing.  We have Chinese gold farmers and Farmville exclusive goods, so augmented goods can’t be far behind.

Right now augmented goods are tied to purchased toys as an “add-on.”  Metaio has teamed up with Bandai Co. to create AR extensions to their real world collectible cards.

I believe the next step will be adding augmented only items that exist in certain locations as a reward.  Combine foursquare and Pokemon and you have a potent combination.  Hit all fifteen Starbucks in your area and you unlock a “Coffee Critter” that shows up on your smartphone when you’re in the store (and you get a discount on the Double Latte Supreme.)  Are you listening TagWhat, Layar, Junaio and the rest?

And keep in mind augmented goods as status symbols don’t count unless other people can see them.  Other patrons should be able to see your critter following you or floating above your head just like a non-combat pet in World of Warcraft.  Trust me, people will go to unbelievable lengths to earn a baby dragon or talking penguin.  Value is all about scarcity and that works even in the virtual or augmented world.

Augmented Reality Comes To World of Warcraft

Okay, probably most of you have read the title and said, so what.  World of Warcraft is a game, and definitely not reality.  Though don’t tell that to the 11.5 million players worldwide.

These “boss-kill” videos are common for the high-end guilds in WoW.  They use the videos as a recruiting tool for good players.  If you think WoW is just a marriage killing RPG then you’re wrong.  At the bleeding edge of the game, guilds compete to be the first at completing new content – i.e. boss-mobs.  These combats are intricate battles of coordination between twenty-five gamers using a host of dedicated UI mods and voice-chat programs to defeat the game.  The top guilds are rewarded with sponsorships and top guildleaders translate their leadership into real jobs (a prominant Everquest guild leader got a job with Blizzard because of his exploits.)  World of Warcraft is, in otherwords, a competitive sport.

So that’s the context of the video.  The important augmented reality aspect comes around the minute and a half mark in the form of six colored discs on the virtual ground.  The purpose of the colored discs is to show certain players exactly where to stand in the game.  This is akin to wide receivers running correct routes so the quarterback can throw them the ball.

Most likely, a program like this will eventually be banned from use because it will trivialize battles and give guilds that use it an advantage over others.  Just like any sport, a level playing field is important to keep top competitors interested.

World of Warcraft’s basis in virtual reality makes inclusion of “augmented” reality easy to pull off.  The computer already has a complete knowledge of the world (because it has to draw it) and the screen provides the augmented graphics on the virtual world.

What other sports or competition could benefit from using augmented reality in this form?  Could marching band competitions use the local spatial awareness of AR to tighten their formations?  Or dance groups?  Projection based AR could provide a rapid trainer for coordinating large groups.

But it’s going to be a long time before augmented reality gets banned as an unfair advantage in a sport or competition.