Imagine being able to view a gaming arena through your own smartphone, literally using the device as a window into a computerized world where players battle for supremacy. How amazing does that sound? That hypothetical is actually a reality, and it’s one that I’ve experienced just today!
Although the first-person shooter, Guns of Boom, isn’t new, it’s one with a very unique draw of having an augmented reality (AR)-enabled spectator mode, which was just released on Android today. This mode allows you to watch the entire map and the players in it from a bird’s eye view. Although that in itself isn’t very unique (many games allow you to do so), GoB empowers you to make your living room the playing field. When you boot up the app, you may choose to be an AR spectator. The game then prompts you to find a flat surface with sufficient area in order to lay down the map of whichever match you’re viewing.
This video is a wonderful example of how seamless the experience can be, and how AR takes spectatorship to another level. With a wave of your phone, your living room turns into a firefight, allowing you to zoom in as close as you want to view alleyway battles as if you were a drone hovering mere feet above the action. The experience is only further enhanced by the fact that the game runs at 60 frames per second on most phones, making the viewing buttery smooth with absolutely no stuttering that could easily break the immersive experience.
I was astounded to learn about such an innovative feature being available on something as simple as our smartphones. It reminded me how powerful the processing capacity is in our little, rectangular devices. With a single app, your mundane living room, bedroom, etc. is transformed into a living battleground arena, providing for potentially hours of entertainment. If you didn’t break eye contact with your screen, you would be hard-pressed to believe the action you were viewing was just laid before you in your own home! Only at certain angles would you catch a glimpse of a chair leg or tablecloth, reminding you that you’ve been sitting on your couch with a family-sized bag of Doritos, staring at your phone and waving it around for the past two hours. However, I believe that the presence of such everyday objects within the line of sight only adds to the amazing fact that we are using technological marvels for pure entertainment. What a time to be alive!
In the long run, I think this is a wonderful way to increase the speed of eSports adoption. Why not monetize this method of viewership? Forget the standard, boring commercials of the old days. What if an AR can of Coke or Sprite randomly rolled by during intermission? How about having a game mascot casually stroll into the field of view during a break period to take survey data about a company’s new product launch? The possibilities could be endless with the engaging touch of AR added to the traditional marketing mix. In an AR-focused marketing scenario, everyone with a capable smartphone (read: nearly everyone in the US) becomes a new customer for the latest soft drink, subscription service, or food delivery platform. By creative lucrative opportunities for companies to pour more advertising funds into eSports, the industry as a whole will only benefit. Personally, I’m excited to see what kinds of things AR can do for other games. Regardless of how other companies decide to integrate AR into their entertainment, I’m sure the results will only become increasingly impressive, following the technological leaps and bounds that have characterized our mobile and digital devices.