Last week I watched the Hollywood adaptation of Jeanne Ryan’s novel, NERVE, which was pretty unnerving. I learned that experiencing the blend of the physical and virtual worlds is becoming real, and it’s fraught with challenges. This film told the story of two bored teenagers who found themselves immersed in an online game of truth or dare. Watchers vicariously viewed the experiences of the players either live or virtually on their mobile devices. Every move the players made was then manipulated by the anonymous community of virtual “watchers” posing the next crowdsourced dare.

The virtual reality game Pokémon Go is another interesting phenomenon that has literally transported a growing number of 20 million+ users from their home game consoles into the real world. The experience of immersive gaming to catch Pokémon and other characters from their mobile in the real world is entertaining. It gets kids outside. It’s becoming competitive. And, in some cases, it’s even dangerous.

eSports, or professional competitive video gaming, may become a global phenomenon valued at a billion dollars by 2019. The industry is in the midst of phenomenal growth, with top players racking up millions of dollars over time in prize money, streaming deals, sponsorships and merchandising. Watchers are also on the prowl.

Will pleasure seeking, me-first, risk-embracing millennials lead the way of future entertainment? Here’s what the future could look like:

  • Virtual reality based gamesVirtual real worlds – Players will be playing games that combine virtual reality and the real world. They are no longer in static locations.
  • Geolocation based game modes – Players will have different experiences based on the geolocation. The location will provide a twist or difference in the game plot.
  • Live action in real places – The sports arena is no longer the only place where live action is taking place. Watcher stands in remote locations will need to be  built for “real-world” action.
  • Watchers may determine course of action for players – Watchers may have the option to anonymously deciding the plot lines in games that Players have to follow.
  • Ring side seats next to the action – Watchers may have a ring side seat to view the action in real time; the best seats may be in the real world as the players are in action.
  • Best players are also entertainers – Players may become skilled in both playing the game and also entertaining their “Watchers” to increase support and viewership.

As the ideas above become a reality, they will have a disruptive influence on the following industries:

  • Media and entertainment business are no longer static content houses. They will need to adapt to immersive game plays.
  • Sports arenas will have to compete with arenas set in “real world” settings.
  • Advertisements are no longer on the side, but are part of the plot line.

In the future who will you be a “Player” or “Watcher”? Do tell.

Want to learn more, read our new whitepaper about taking virtual reality into the enterprise.

Nagaraja Srivatsan

Nagaraja Srivatsan

Srivatsan Nagaraja is Senior Vice President, Venture partner, Cognizant a leading provider of information technology, business consulting, enterprise applications and business process... Read more

  • Aravind Ramachandran

    The intersection of real & virtual worlds (through both augmented & virtual reality) will also be driven by another key area of explosion – machine learning. The winner IMHO will be the company (or group of organisations) that pull all this together into meaningful solutions for their customers …