Augmented Reality Comes to World of Warcraft

Okay, probably most of you have read the title and said, so what.  World of Warcraft is a game, and definitely not reality.  Though don’t tell that to the 11.5 million players worldwide.

These “boss-kill” videos are common for the high-end guilds in WoW.  They use the videos as a recruiting tool for good players.  If you think WoW is just a marriage killing RPG then you’re wrong.  At the bleeding edge of the game, guilds compete to be the first at completing new content – i.e. boss-mobs.  These combats are intricate battles of coordination between twenty-five gamers using a host of dedicated UI mods and voice-chat programs to defeat the game.  The top guilds are rewarded with sponsorships and top guildleaders translate their leadership into real jobs (a prominant Everquest guild leader got a job with Blizzard because of his exploits.)  World of Warcraft is, in otherwords, a competitive sport.

So that’s the context of the video.  The important augmented reality aspect comes around the minute and a half mark in the form of six colored discs on the virtual ground.  The purpose of the colored discs is to show certain players exactly where to stand in the game.  This is akin to wide receivers running correct routes so the quarterback can throw them the ball.

Most likely, a program like this will eventually be banned from use because it will trivialize battles and give guilds that use it an advantage over others.  Just like any sport, a level playing field is important to keep top competitors interested.

World of Warcraft’s basis in virtual reality makes inclusion of “augmented” reality easy to pull off.  The computer already has a complete knowledge of the world (because it has to draw it) and the screen provides the augmented graphics on the virtual world.

What other sports or competition could benefit from using augmented reality in this form?  Could marching band competitions use the local spatial awareness of AR to tighten their formations?  Or dance groups?  Projection based AR could provide a rapid trainer for coordinating large groups.

But it’s going to be a long time before augmented reality gets banned as an unfair advantage in a sport or competition.

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