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Something’s still a bit off with virtual reality and esports

Something’s still a bit off with virtual reality and esports

The world of esports and virtual reality have collided with the creation of Sliver TV. It’s the kind of product that seems dreamed up by venture capitalists inside of a think tank operating out of a coworking space for idea men. It’s a concept made largely of dollar signs and buzz words—esports and VR are growing industries, multiple millions of dollars presumed to be made in the near future for the right person who can come up with the right idea.

“We’re focused on the intersection between today’s 250 million esports viewers and the emerging VR market,” Sliver’s Mitch Liu told Venture Beat. With the Sliver technology, developers can drop the virtual equivalent of 360 cameras into their game fields allowing Sliver to create immersive 360 videos. Not live, mind you, but in 12-24 hours.

But games are designed to be seen from a specific angle.

One of the most recent examples of esports and VR is the VR spectator mode released for Dota 2 right before the most recent International. Dota 2 VR followed much the same thought process as outlined by Liu and Sliver; “We recognized early on that the existing esports viewing approach from the player’s point-of-view is not necessarily the best perspective for the audience.” The obvious route is to change the perspective and to get the player right down into the PvP action. But games are designed to be seen from a specific angle, from a distance, and the particles and character models don’t have their same effect through trees.

Imagine a game of Monopoly where you are watching the players from the perspective of the thimble or the terrier. You can’t see the whole board, and the pieces weren’t designed to have you on their level. They’re less detailed up close—rougher models of their original content. There’s no equivalence for the roar of the crowd that you get at a tournament—something that esports doesn’t always have from our digital sidelines. Sitting inside the world of a match of League of Legends you’re further removed from your fellow fans, amazing ganks witnessed in the quiet of cyberspace.

With virtual reality seen as the new reality, it’s hardly surprising that someone has thought to squish them together and Sliver TV is not even the first to attempt this. Perhaps in the future games will be designed for virtual reality explorations of their maps. Perhaps, but not quite today.

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