With virtual reality, e-sports also promise physical expenses

“To run, run! With virtual reality, e-sport is controller-free and allows multiple players to compete on the same very physical terrain.

In France, the young shooter Esports Virtual Arenas (EVA) aims to open a hundred “arenas” in 2024. In reality, these fields are huge QR codes drawn on the floor of hangars located in an industrial zone. As a “laser game”, a dozen players move there at once armed with a rifle that allows for aiming, but decked out in a virtual reality helmet connected to an on-board computer in a backpack. . On the virtual side, the action can take place in the heart of the jungle, in the middle of the desert or on the planet Mars. Depending on the game mode, it’s every man for himself or a team sport to control the opponent’s territory. When an avatar is hit, the player is eliminated and must walk to a respawn point.

The “lack of real physical effort” is “one of the reasons why e-sports are not considered a real sport”, says Jean Mariotte, founder of the start-up EVA, during a press demonstration in Beauchamp, Val-d ‘Oise, the first of fourteen franchised cinemas opened in France and Belgium. The commands are simple: “To run, run!” To squat, you squat! Participants, whose position is detected by sensors on the helmet and rifle, feel they are really in the game and often end up sweating. However, be careful with sudden movements, collisions are never far away.

“Esports Virtual Arenas is a large structure, with very expensive facilities and equipment,” explains Ludovic Donati, manager of Volt Events, which sells several competing solutions, including Hado, a dodgeball in augmented reality, a real phenomenon. new sport in Japan. “You see the environment as it really is, but above it will come to add special effects,” he explains, citing in particular the virtual fireball-shaped projectile. A game only lasts 80 seconds because “it’s very physical,” he adds.

The young French shooter Esports Virtual Arenas (EVA) gave a press demonstration of his “physical experience” in augmented reality, at Beauchamp in the Val-d’Oise. The EVA intends to open a hundred “arenas” in two years. Lionel Boaventura/AFP

Teams and competitions

Both experiences are part of so-called free-motion solutions, as opposed to experiences where the user is static and only moves virtually, a discrepancy that often leads to a feeling of nausea, called motion sickness. “One in two people can’t take it,” says Ludovic Donati. That’s why many VR rooms (virtual reality, virtual reality in French) have closed. »

EVA like Hado – and other solutions that are more or less simple to develop and operate – are destined to become sports and not simple attractions, their promoters want to believe, who are now trying to invest in the American market. The first teams and competitions have been assembled, and both experiments aim to capitalize on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to gain a following.

After an EVA test during a corporate event, Mathieu Lacrouts, head of the communications agency specializing in video games Hurrah, said he was surprised by “unanimously positive feedback”. “Everyone got into the game, from the least ‘players’ to the most competitive,” he says. Compared to immersive games that have invested in the sports niche, such as FitXR (acquired by Meta) or the famous rhythm game Beat Saber, the real strength of these rooms is “offering an experience impossible to reproduce at home”, encouraging players to progress again , explains.

And to reach an ever wider audience, Jean Mariotte announced that he had raised five million euros to, in particular, develop an experience “that is not a ‘shooter’”.

Jules BONNARD/AFP

“To run, run! With virtual reality, e-sport is controller-free and allows multiple players to compete on the same very physical terrain. , these fields are huge QR codes drawn on…

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