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Why Gaming Needs to Power Up With Player-Player Virtual Reality

NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / September 26, 2019 / Up and until now, the virtual reality (VR) sector of the gaming industry has been primarily focused on player versus environment, where participants-individually or on teams, battle against computer-generated enemies.

Its long-term promise of bringing a completely wireless VR headset to gamers, unfortunately has not happened, despite recent progress from Oculus and HTC. One of the challenges throughout the VR-sector is creating "replayable content," especially within the location-based industry.

One such company, has introduced the concept of "player-player" (PVP) VR to the public, unveiling its first-VR arena earlier this year, as initially reported by ABC 7 News in Chicago, and followed up in an interview by MSNBC.

Founded in 2016 by Chris Lai, 42, Mass VR's VR arena is a former department store-turned arena, where players can navigate and move through "multiple floors" and "multiple buildings," by which they can then explore, move around, and jet pack around.

MassVR is only Lai's most recent venture, as the tech engineer started his first game company in the mid-90's while in undergrad at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The employees of the company have since gone on to work with major gaming titles such as Halo and Deus Ex.

Andrew Rossow, an internet and technology attorney, spoke with Lai about on the significance of bringing PVP VR to the gaming sector is the direction the industry should be headed towards.

Chris Lai, Founder/CEO MassVR

Andrew Rossow: Why is PVP VR different from what us gamers are already accustomed to?

Chris Lai: With traditional VR, you're accustomed to playing Player vs Environment (PVE), all interactions come to you, and repeatability is low. With PVP VR, you are now playing against another, whom is capable of complex thought, and not simply an algorithm or A.I.-generated bot. This brings a whole new level of enjoyment to the game when you are able to say you are better than other players. This is the basis for eSports and why it is so popular.

AR: Why don't we see many of these PVP VR systems on the market?

CL: Unfortunately, the VR games for at-home systems that support PVP are extremely limited to the space available in homes, which is typically 10'x10' or less. This results in in-game character movement being primarily manipulated through a controller, which is often the cause for motion sickness for most users.

Lai's company opened to the public in February 2018, where WGN News did a segment on them, outlining the difference between Mass VR's spacial expansion and competitor's small "warehouse" scale spaces ranging from 500 square feet to 1,500 square feet.

"MassVR pioneered a new tracking system that did not rely on a network of fixed camera systems like our competitors," Lai stated.

"This allowed us to build a 6,000 square foot warehouse-scale arena at a fraction of the cost. But even at that scale, we discovered the space, both virtual and real, was not enough to capture what it feels like to play a first-person shooter game, like Halo or Call of Duty."

That's where Lai and his team introduced the 'N:1 playspace' concept-allowing players to be in different areas or floors, yet still interacting in the same physical space.

"Collision avoidance was the biggest problem we overcame," Lai added, "and what makes navigating through our environment the closest thing to being in a holodeck. The ability to run around continuously for long stretches, while never breaking immersion is what sets MassVR apart from our competition."

Back in the mid-90's, Lai was featured in Popular Mechanics for creating "maps" for the visually impaired, all through technology.

"The system would use infrared lasers to triangulate the positions of objects like walls or even a cup, registering a grid of points from the laser, and translating that to a tactile haptic glove, similar to braile, except the pins would come down on the back of your hand."

Unfortunately, according to Lai, not much was done with the technology, and he had to decide between pursuing that or starting his video company in 1994.

With newer technologies like VR, skepticism comes part of the package. "With the extensive library of games available today, it is hard to get people to go somewhere to try a new game, let alone play it multiple times," Lai emphasized. "That is why the social aspect to this sector is so important."

AR: Recognizing challenges such as the slow adoption rate, what benefits have you seen thus far?

CL: Unfortunately, slow adoption rate is a challenge with VR, especially since early models often caused motion-sickness, which didn't really built trust among users. However, people are slowly giving it a try. The greatest benefit we have seen is that it's making gaming active and social in a way that was traditionally unavailable.

For more information on MassVR, please contact Laura Orrico Public Relations at lauraorrico@gmail.com and taylor.orricopr@gmail.com.


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