Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality – A Doorway to Gamification

Augmented Reality has yet to reach its full potential. However, the rising of smart glasses, smart watches and other smart gadgets, is a clear indicator that we are probably on the verge of a new reality. Everyone wants to get their hands on these technological novelties.

Isn’t that extremely good news for gamification? Yes, we are totally aware (and totally support this idea) that you don’t need more than a strategy to create a gamification experience and that you don’t really depend on more than your own imagination. However, the more tools you have available to enhance or measure the outcome of a gamified experience, the better. And these kind of devices, which bring the digital world to real settings, have the potential to open endless possibilities to some appliances usable in many kinds of gamification scenarios.

The first time augmented reality got a boost in relevance was with the smartphone. But soon after it was perceived that the smartphone wasn’t the more comfortable tool to use augmented reality in. That’s just one of the reasons for all the attention and hype around smart glasses – people are enthusiastic about all the potential it can bring to the this field.

Imagine you are going for a run. You are the proud owner of a smart glass device and you have a “game” that allows you to select from several courses in your town. Using GPS coordinates, the “game” then draws you the path in your smart glasses, which is to say, right there in your eyes. Now imagine that this course was created by another player in your town, and imagine that he also created a story associated with it, where a group of spies are after a specific piece of information regarding a new secret weapon, and you only have twenty minutes to find that information before they do – you gotta run, pal!

Now let’s mix in geocaching. Imagine that in the end of your run you have a little souvenir left by the last person getting there… doesn’t that sound a lot of fun?

All the while your smart glasses would give you every piece of information necessary and complementary to your little adventure and, depending on your performance, reward you with points and badges. Even though these elements don’t make a gamification experience by themselves, they certainly add value to it!

Virtual Reality – Entering the Game

On the other hand we finally have Virtual Reality making a serious statement regarding its own existence with the Oculus Rift recently bought by Facebook. As you are probably aware, this headset allows you to enter the digital world like you have never before! These are also great news, but not so much for gamification as it is to serious games.

Wait, what?

“Why are you saying that Virtual Reality isn’t that useful in gamification?”, we may hear you asking. It can be useful in select situations, but not as much as Augmented Reality. Just think about it…

Virtual Reality is putting the real in virtual. Augmented Reality is putting virtual in the real.

Gamification is the use of game elements in non-game situations. Most of the times, a non-game situation refers to a real-world scenario, like running, cooking, going to work, and so on. Therefore, it makes more sense to enhance your reality with virtual elements, than to put yourself in the virtual world. Imagine your boss reaction when he came upon you working with an Oculus Rift on. Actually, try to imagine how you’d get to your work in the first place! Maybe some smart glasses would be a better option.

But none of this means we can’t use gamification in Virtual Reality.
Can you think of any experience that can be created with this association?

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  1. This is not an accurate article, this writer is assuming virtual reality is only a gaming tool.

    For example instead of going to work, you virtually create a workspace that people share. Gamification would work the same as augmented reality only that the work space itself does not have to be real, or that you do not have to be physically there to interact with it.

    Virtual reality is just the full digital projection of the world, augmented is an overlay. If you were to create an overlay that no longer allowed you to see a non-digital image you no longer have augmentation, you have virtual.

    • Hello AL, thanks for the feedback!

      We’d like to make it clear that we are not assuming that at all. I’m not sure what in the article gave you that idea, but we can assure you that it was not what we had in mind. We can see all the potential in VR and of course it’s not only for games. We actually have some ideas regarding VR that have little to do with games.

      I understand what you’re saying about applying gamification in a virtual “real” non-gaming setting. But wouldn’t that fall into the serious games category? Gamification and serious games have the same final purpose – to motivate its users. What separates them is the environment in which they apply. Everything in between is a bit blurry.

      In a quick Wikipedia search you’ll find this: “Serious games are simulations of real-world events or processes designed for the purpose of solving a problem. Although serious games can be entertaining, their main purpose is to train or educate users, though it may have other purposes, such as marketing or advertisement.”

      Wouldn’t you say this kind of applies to your example?

  2. Interesting. Tho, I think that having Virtual Reality is the first step towards getting Augmented Reality. And it’s very useful in it’s own way, but someday we’ll use the same hardware/devices to do AR as we do VR.

    We need good VR first, to help push the other necessary technologies forward, gamers always want the highest performing HMDs, companies will want to slim them down so they can be as consumer friendly as possible, someday these things will be the size of sunglasses or smaller! Then, as computer-vision software for AR gets good enough, we’ll start to see AR working well enough to become a consumer-level technology, and the hardware required to do it will already be out there.

    • Thank you, Okinsama! You make great points in your comment.
      I totally agree with you regarding the size of devices. It evolves daily. Smartphones > Smart Glasses / Watches > Smart Contact Lenses.
      Using the same devices for both AR and VR, well… I guess that’s the day we can start looking at just one concept, instead of two separate “realities”. Maybe call it Enhanced Reality, as we’ll effectively be living both at the same time.

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