in the future, video games will be multi-sensory

It’s the big French meeting place for video game fans: Paris Games Week is returning after a two-year absence. In the future, games will appeal to all our senses and we will be able to physically feel what is happening on the screen.

With the return of Paris Games Week this week, after two years of absence, is an opportunity to remember the importance of video games in France and around the world. Everyone plays, or almost. Nearly 3 billion players in the world, 37 million French, an average age of 38, the world’s leading cultural industry ahead of cinema and music… The best-selling cultural product in France every year is the FIFA game. More and more realistic games on the last generation consoles. But we can go much further, with multisensory games.

This is the next step. We’ll pair the games with a whole bunch of accessories that will give you a physical feel depending on what’s happening on the screen. We will feel what our character must experience. French startup Actronika, for example, has developed a haptic jacket that allows you to physically feel what’s happening on the screen. It looks a bit like a bulletproof vest or a life jacket, equipped with 20 micromotors which are all sensitive areas that activate depending on what’s going on.

If your screen character takes a bullet, you will feel a physical shock. If it rains on the screen, you will feel the raindrops falling on you. Your character gets a snowball, you physically feel the impact on your chest, even the coldness of the snowball. The same if a monster chokes you, you will have a feeling of suffocation. And if there is fire around you, you will feel this heat on your skin. It’s a bit like the principle of vibrating levers, which have been around for years, but taken to the extreme. And when you connect it to a virtual reality headset, which is already very immersive, you are completely immersed in the adventure.

Gloves or masks to play and feel

So will we come out with bruises if we play a fighting game? It won’t go that far unless you really want it to… It was an American engineer who developed this device that crosses the line between a video game accessory and an instrument of torture. A pair of robotic arms equipped with boxing gloves that will punch the player in real life when playing a virtual reality fighting game. There, for once, the immersion is total. We will not see this happening in our living rooms tomorrow.

But we will see the arrival of accessories that will enhance the immersion by appealing to all our senses. It can also take the form of gloves, like HaptX, which through force feedback will give you the sensation of touching the objects you see in the game. In a basketball game, you will have the impression that the ball is really in your hands. The latest example: a Japanese company, Cerevo, has developed special shoes to wear while playing, which will give you the sensation of sinking into snow or a swampy terrain. What we completely forget about the real world.

And the sense of smell, then? For a long time, we have been promised cinema in aroma, which would allow us to feel in the room what is happening when we watch a movie. This is not yet conclusive, even if there have been many experiments in recent years. Like this accessory for consoles and PCs, a smell mask, called Feelreal. A small accessory paired with a virtual reality headset that, at certain key moments, will send you scents corresponding to the action. Inside you have scented capsules and fans. And so you will have the feeling of the wind in your face or the heat, raindrops and then some wind. For example, if you are playing a shooting game, you will smell gunpowder. Or that of burning asphalt in a Formula 1 game. Or even puzzles that can be solved within the game using your sense of smell.

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