For those of you who haven't yet heard of it, the Oculus Rift head-mounted display looks a little like an oversized pair of ski goggles, but it contains a stereoscopic display that delivers an immersive 3D visual experience to the person wearing it. The system also tracks the head movements of the user, adjusting the view to suit, and if they extend their arms in front of their usual field of vision, virtual arms and hands are recreated in the computer-generated environment that is being displayed.
The Oculus Rift has been in development for several years, and a consumer version is expected to be released later this year, so software developers are working hard to create titles that people will be able to enjoy from the outset. Microgaming has also recognised that the new technology has the potential to take the online gaming world in a brand new direction, and has shown, in VR Roulette, that it is keen to lead the way.
VR Roulette integrates the physical world of the player with the simulated world of cyberspace. Wear the head-mounted display and you can see the roulette betting layout right in front of you, exactly as it would appear if you were sitting at the chip rail. To the left is the wheel itself, and opposite you is the croupier. Using your hands, you can select the chips that you want to bet and place them on the relevant section of the table layout. You can then watch, or simply look around at the virtual environment, as the game is played and your bet wins or loses.
This is just one game, but VR Roulette demonstrates the fact that Microgaming is already thinking about how best to serve the next generation of online casino players who will expect the maximum possible amount of realism and immersion from their time at the virtual tables. We're imagining a time when we can roll dice with our hands at the craps table, where we can handle our cards at the Blackjack table and where we can sit around a virtual reality poker table and keep an eye on their virtual tells. We also think that this kind of gaming could be much closer than most people would assume, so watch this space and we'll keep you posted with further developments as they happen!