Some years ago, prior to the Oculus Rift launching, most of us were excited to see what the first generation of virtual reality technology could do for gaming. Immersing yourself in a world with no distractions at play sounded so damn exciting, and don’t get me wrong — it still does. That said, it’s hard to argue that the first generation of VR headsets have been anything more than disappointing, thanks to high pricing and a limited range of games to play.
Rather than tackling this new technology head on, Apple have instead elected to dabble in augmented reality gaming. After spending some time with ARKit, I’m slowly coming around to the idea that this technology has real legs — and a good chunk of us already have the equipment to use it.If you’ve played Pokémon GO at any point in your life, you’d have already experienced AR in action. The tech — which uses your phone’s camera and the real world to generate digital imagery within — has been around for quite a while now. And following the official launch of Apple’s ARKit technology last year at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company has given developers the tools to incorporate AR into their games with relative ease. Subsequently, augmented reality experiences have boomed on the app store, with around 2,000 ARKit-enabled apps now available to download and try.
The biggest question, of course, is if these apps are any good. Generally speaking, I’m not one to play many mobile games at all, and while I appreciate what’s happening in the virtual and augmented reality spaces and can recognise the potential there, I almost always prefer conventional methods of gaming. However, my experience with AR has been really positive — there’s something really neat about spawning a digital dragon on a real table and interacting with it, or walking about catching Pokémon in the real world. And yeah, you might get some weird glances from passersby, but the experiences afforded by this kind of tech are as intriguing as they are fun.