Beat Isolation with wearable technology - Part 1
Over the last few years, the advent of VR and AR in wearable technology has opened up new ways of storytelling and game development. As recent as 2016 early adopters had the insight to assist those, already sequestered in isolation and unable to travel, to use wearable technology to transport them to other places. Nursing homes and hospitals visited by VR developers saw how residents would react when they 'visited' places from their past, or locations otherwise unreachable in their current physical condition. Though this practice did not catch on institutionally, it created a foundation on which to build platforms for the explosion of isolation to come.
In the current COVID-19 climate, the gaming and tech industry are being asked to pick up the slack and fill the holes in society where in-person interaction has normally taken place. Historically, many social bonds have been supplemented with multiplayer game sessions with friends in Fortnight, Counter-Strike or Minecraft. But, in a world where most relationships have pivoted to a ‘long-distance relationship’ what are the options in wearable tech for this new reality? Naturally, those stuck in their homes are taking to home-based hobbies, but on the weekend of March 14th the gaming platform Steam had a record number of online concurrent users clocking in at 22 million. The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch platform on March 20th has been the largest game release in Japan of all time. This release sold 1.88 million hard copies of the game in the first three days. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is giving users a sense of control and accomplishment while still being able to feel as if they are physically visiting their friends. This easy online multiplayer interaction has been the key to its popularity.