WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As physical and digital worlds merge in the future we’ll see more people playing in real time against professional sports men and women in virtual worlds.
Last year I wrote about the first fully autonomous race car, and as sports companies try to find new ways to innovate the sporting experience Formula E (FE) have announced a world first and released a “Ghost racing” video game app that will allow fans to race against the series’ drivers in real-time as a “world’s first” in E-Sports.
The app will initially be released on smartphones and PC in a “long-term” partnership with Virtually Live, an entertainment company that specialises in creating Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) experiences from physical live events and rendering it in a virtual environment.
Virtually Live will use its proprietary technology to replicate an FE race using real-time CGI, which it says will “precisely mirror the positioning and order out on track”.
Using telemetry, the real-time racing is replicated in CGI and a gamer can battle the FE drivers as the race takes place. Players can also post their best qualifying times and compete after the race has finished to reproduce scenarios and challenges that occurred in the real race.
The game will also allow fans the chance to clip and share moments from the game on social media, and if the E-Sports experience can be streamed using a platform like Google’s cloud game streaming platform Stadia that was unveiled at the start of the year, then in time there might be nothing stopping you from watching a race via YouTube, clicking a button on the remote and jumping straight into the race, virtually of course, to race the drivers round the track. And that’d be awesome, so hopefully that’s something they’ll add down the metaphorical road.
FE, which says virtual reality will become “an addition in the future,” has also released pre-alpha, work in progress video footage of the app in action and has said that the game will take place on “multiple” further platforms down the line.
“I remember before we launched the first-ever season of Formula E, we said fans no longer just want to watch or follow a sport – they want to participate in it too,” said FE CEO Alejandro Agag. “The cutting-edge technology used to create the live ghost racing game is extraordinary. Thanks to the expertise of Virtually Live, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship has yet again shown it’s at the forefront of developing accessible and inclusive content at the fans fingertips. This is another milestone in the arena of eSports with Formula E leading the charge.”
Gamers wishing to play the app can register their interest to be one of the first to play it.
Ghost play and ghost racing, has been a feature in racing games for some time, although it has traditionally been an on-track representation of a lap time target for a gamer to beat, rather than a real-time racing experience. And this is just a glimpse of what the future of E-Sports could like as the real and virtual worlds continue to merge.