I SPENT an hour wearing HoloLens, essentially a lightweight visor over my eyes, and gaming as I know it changed forever.
The E3 conference, which brings together the world’s biggest players in gaming was in full swing, and I finally had my chance to experience what everyone was waiting for — augmented reality gaming.
Wearing HoloLens gives gamers the chance to be a part of the game — holograms appear in your own environment, meaning you could be sitting on the lounge at home and watching characters appear in the same room.
The makers showcased three games using HoloLens, so I got to experience a Spartan fortress, a futuristic battle with robots, and a completely different way of playingMinecraft.
The first was an interactive experience of Halo 5’s war zone multiplayer mode, which began with me sitting in a set that mimicked a Spartan fortress while I was fitted with the device.
There was no need for directions to the briefing area because after the technology was activated, a holographic marker was directing me in real-time.
The next location was a command deck where a holographic 3D model rose from the centre table and briefed me on the weapons, maps and enemies I was about to encounter.
Unfortunately, the game itself wasn’t in HoloLens, but the experience leading up made the game all the more personal and I foresee it becoming the basis for a kick-ass laser tag or arcade attraction.
I already felt like I was a real-life Tony Stark and that was incredible enough, but the next demo of Project X-ray would have me feeling like Ironman.
Standing in a room with the HoloLens headset covering my eyes and a controller in my hand, I was advised to prepare myself, as I was about to be attacked from all directions.
While I could still see my physical surroundings, a holographic robot burst through the wall and I was forced to use my gaze to target the enemy so I could blast him.
The enemies kept coming as quick as I could kill them and I was soon swarmed by flying robots who were literally shooting holographic fireballs and lasers in my direction.
I ducked, wove and blasted my way to victory, only to realise I had destroyed the walls of the room in the process.
Luckily, when the HoloLens was removed, I could see the room was intact and I was not facing an enormous bill for the damage.
From Ironman to Minority Report, the final leg of the demonstration was a hands-on with the holographic version of Minecraft displayed at the Xbox press conference.
As in the demo, there was the option to play the game on a pseudo-screen projected on a wall or as a fully interactive map on the surface of a table. I opted primarily for the table.
By pinching my fingers above the map and using voice commands, I was able to play God and control the environment as I saw fit.
From lifting surface world to explore the unround to causing lightning strikes wherever I pleased, I was in full control and the power made me feel damn good.
But, eventually the demo ended, as did my time with the HoloLens and once again I was forced to face reality, which seemed all the more bland after living in a futuristic world for an hour.
Things were not all that bad though, because there was a shining light at the end of tunnel and it came in the form of Project Morpheus.
The virtual reality creation developed by Sony, puts players in the centre of new worlds after they slip on a visor-style, head-mounted display.
For my demo, I was placed into a seat, given a controller and had the headset placed over head.
The game, developed by Capcom, was called Kitchen, which was fitting given that’s the environment was set.
Unlike the HoloLens, which builds on the world you are currently in, Project Morpheus creates a new, 360-degree, fully explorable virtual world.
For all intents and purposes I was now sitting on a chair in a kitchen with my hands tied together and everywhere I looked I could see details of the new world.
To everyone watching I had a controller in my hands that I was lifting up and down, however in my “virtual” world, I was moving my hands that were tied together with rope.
The game required a camera to be pushed over, so it could wake up someone who was passed out on the floor next to me.
It worked, he made his way over and was talking with me before a zombie ran into the room and ripped him away.
But, not before stabbing me with a knife in my virtual leg.
After this event, I heard eerie noises and franticly scanned every corner of my virtual world looking for the source.
Before I know it a pair of hands reached over my eyes and the demo was finished.
While obviously being limited in the actions I could perform, the game’s graphics were mind-blowing and the atmosphere was oh so real.
For a brief moment, I forgot I was in a booth at a gaming convention and I honestly felt as if I was the star of the Evil Dead.
It was scary, it was suspenseful and it was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.
I have played a lot of games in my time — starting way back with the Sega Master System II all the way through to the Xbox One and PS4. I’ve always loved them, but I would not consider myself a hardcore gamer, I would fit more with the casual players of video games.
Sure, I love playing people in Battlefield online, but that experience often ends with me shouting profanities at the screen because of the frequency in which I die.
So it was pretty daunting to be invited to the E3 event, which is held annually in Los Angeles.
The event attracts gaming fanatics, industry insiders, and journos, like me.
The first event showed just how big this conference is. Held at the Dolby Theatre (home of the Oscars), the Bethesda launch was packed.
Massive banners hung above a roped off entrance and down the street was a queue of people dressed in gaming shirts or as their favourite Bethesda characters.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to pack my Wolfenstien costume. Oh well, next time.
As the event got underway, I made my way down the black carpet and saw tourists frantically snapping photos in a hope to capture someone famous.
So imagine their excitement when they realise they have a snap of Matthew Dunn from news.com.au.
Once inside the venue, the showcase started and Bethesda sent out gaming developers to preview its upcoming titles for release.
And every time a new title trailer was revealed or a developer took to the stage, an audience of grown adults regressed to making sounds of what could only be likened to 14-year-old girls at a One Direction concert.
I have been to some big events in my time, but none maintained as much noise and excitement from start to end as this conference. The Xbox and PlayStation events were also huge, with fans waiting outside, desperate to get in.
To say these fans idolised the gaming developers like rock stars would not do it justice, they were more than rock stars, they were Gods.
E3 gives trade professionals access to the world’s most impressive collection of electronic entertainment and this is enough to build hype through the wider gaming community.
The future of gaming is amazing and will change the world completely.
I can’t help but feel the technology I experienced will be responsible for getting more people into video games.
From all I saw, the current landscape of gaming is far more advanced than anyone with a Gameboy would have imagined too.
I can safely say while I still don’t see myself become hardcore gamer wearing fingerless gloves for optimisation, I have definitely promised myself to make more times for games.
You have shown me the past, present and future E3 and I am eternally grateful.
Matthew Dunn travelled to E3 as a guest of Microsoft.