Pro esports players; your game is about to get significantly more physical. At least, it is if Bigger Inside and its VR run-and-gun ecosystem has anything to do with it.
Bigger Inside Merges Laser Tag With Virtual Reality
Bigger Inside has arrived at CES 2021 and with it comes some exciting new VR gaming tech. By employing a mixed reality model (VR in a real world setting), Bigger Inside will turn our idea of esports on its head.
Currently, the French brand is working on its Protocol 223 game, which is a blend of virtual reality video gaming and traditional laser tag. The wider implications of this tech are tremendous, particularly when we consider how we play traditional esports.
How Does the Protocol 223 Game Work?
As mentioned, Bigger Inside is currently working on the development of its Protocol 223 game. This is integral to the entire concept, as the game provides the virtual reality environment for real-world players to explore and wage laser-based war with each other.
The idea is fairly simple; first, like most virtual reality gaming scenarios, players don a VR headset, including over ear headphones and a mic. They also wear an "exosuit". The headset transforms the player's surroundings into the virtual reality game environment.
The exosuit allows motion capture cameras to read each player's movements. A series of indicators line each of a player's limbs. The cameras read this layout, and then the software translates the player's movements to actions within the gaming environment. So, when a player moves, so does the avatar in the game.
The suit also provides haptic feedback. When a player shoots and reloads their weapon, their wrist will vibrate, allowing players to become more immersed in the game.
Bigger Inside's Damien Hoffschir tells us that haptic feedback improvements are something developers will look at in the future, with the suit potentially providing haptic feedback when a projectile hits the player.
In the game, players can select from a range of avatar types, each of which has a unique role in how the game plays out. So, like many first-person shooter titles, you could play as a sniper or a tank.
Where Do You Play the Protocol 223 Game?
The in-game environment is very sci-fi oriented, a bit like if you imagine Tron Legacy inside Warzone's gulag. The maps can be as big as the real world environment in which you are playing it; the game is fully customizable to existing laser tag locations.
Obviously, this means you will have to travel to a dedicated venue to play Protocol 223 or any mixed reality game that Bigger Inside comes up with in the future. However, this could form a part of your social life. This is what Bigger Inside intends, anyhow.
What Are the Implications of Bigger Inside's Model?
First, we have the environmental implications. The significant thing about using existing spaces is that nobody needs to build new venues.
Bigger Inside estimates there are 2,000 existing laser tag venues in the US; a territory it very much has its eyes set upon, expecting to enter the US market by the end of 2021.
Second, there are the wider implications for this as an esports model. Who had a chat with Bigger Inside's Benjamin Rolland, who explains:
The first aim is to create a community around the game, based on the huge worldwide network of existing laser tag facilities. Over 300 in France, and over 2000 in the USA, for example. We are laser tag maze friendly and our technology is fully compatible with the existing mazes.
He continues to tell us about potential the social impact:
Imagine our game available in most cities, and gamers coming in the room to practice as in traditional sports when people come to train in their club or gym.
When asked about how this would work in a traditional esports tournament-style format, Benjamin said:
First, we will organize local competitions, then regional tournaments between cities etc, until reaching world championships in the manner of the Overwatch leagues, for example.
It all sounds very exciting. Bigger Inside is ready for the future potential of the system, too.
We already have a smart camera system to follow the action in the game and broadcast it in the game location. It's very easy for us to consider broadcasting live on channels such as Twitch during a competition or a special event and we are already working on that. This is already an objective for us with the next openings of rooms in France.
Bigger Inside Has a Bright Future Ahead
Let's face it, this is a cool concept. Anyone who tells you they don't want to spend a Saturday afternoon running round pretending they're Jeff Bridges is probably not telling the truth.
Obviously this isn't something you can play at home. Not unless you have your own laser tag arena. But there are other options if you want to explore VR in your home setting. That isn't the intention, here.
Hopefully, Bigger Inside completes its mission for 2021; to bring its virtual reality game to US soil. That way we can all enjoy a genuinely social video gaming experience.