A tryst with virtual reality cricket - a few hits, a few misses, and loads of fun
Notwithstanding the commentating gentleman sounding like the second cousin of David Gower, I had a bagful of fun at iB cricket's vSport arcade and can guarantee that this marriage of e-sports and VR is the next big thing.
At some point or the other in the life of most cricket lovers, they are told by either their parents, relatives or coaches that they possess something special. From then on, many of us hold this notion that we are gifted cricketers.
A majority of this lot is not able to pursue the dream of becoming a cricketer and rather settle into more conventional jobs. However, the love for the game does not die out, be it regularly following the national team, religiously checking scores online or visiting the stadium for an odd live match, we like to stay connected to the game that is so dear to us.
When we see a mediocre shot hit or a rank half-tracker bowled, some of us think to ourselves: I wasn't that bad, was I? Had I pursued my calling, I could have made a living out of it in this new age. With more and more T20 leagues cropping up, the pool of professional cricketers that it can absorb is only widening. Too bad.
I, myself, played at the club level and was included in my under-13 state level team but such was the pressure of studies, that I could never actually make it to the stadium on the match day and kept drifting apart from the sport from thereon. I am sure many of us have had to take such tough calls when we have had to choose between academics and some sport which has shaped the life that we currently live.
One of the perks of being a journalist is that you get to have a lot of first hand experiences. One such experience came my way when I visited a virtual reality cricket arcade of IB cricket to find out how realistic this experience was and how I would fare in simulated match conditions.
The experience served to bring my feet to reality. The game has various stages - new, easy, medium, hard and real. Easy and medium went alright but as I kept going closer to the real action, I realised how my reflexes were not sharp enough to react to balls in excess of 130 kmph (80 mph).
That said, the more I played, the better I became and ended up having a ball, both literally and figuratively. The virtual reality headset that I wore had both the camera and sensors embedded in it, which helped me experience something quite close to reality. For a split second, I truly felt being in the midst of a run chase with thousands of spectators cheering on as I tried to pick a leg spinner.
Apart from the virtual reality headset, you are given a bat, of course (chuckles), which is connected to the entire setup and shows the contact point of the ball after each delivery. Apart from a few balls that hit the middle of my bat, I mistimed a lot of them. I must confess, these were the ones that I tried to muscle, when all you need to do is to time them.
The customised ball by ball commentary and the music only added to the experience. The features of hawk-eye and replay after every ball help you analyse your game and improve upon it. It's an entirely different matter that the commentating gentleman sounded like the second cousin of David Gower and the umpire was bit of a Billy Bowden caricature.
Before the beginning of the game, you get to choose the stadium, the bowling difficulty level, the batting difficulty level, left-handed or right-handed, the type of pitch and whether you want to play a day game or a day-night one.
The game, the beginner mode in particular, I figured out at last, was quite easy and anybody who knows how to hold a bat and swing it can have a very immersive experience. You only need to know the basics of the game to enjoy it. Even people who are not very closely connected to the sport can throw the bat around and have a great time.
With physical grounds shrinking by the day, virtual reality cricket is manna from heaven for the sports enthusiasts to go along with your friends or family and have a competitive stint for an hour or so. This can also turn out to be an amazing team-bonding exercise which the corporate world can look at. HR guys, you hear me?
iB Cricket, a new format of Cricket, is the first true sport in Virtual Reality. It is a highly immersive vSport (eSport in Virtual Reality) with a potential to reach 500 million users across the world. iB Cricket has got 95% five-star ratings from more than 15000 users across the world (including places where cricket is not played) during beta testing. Irrespective of age, gender & cricketing background, everyone is enjoying the vSport alike.
iB Cricket is the world’s most immersive VR Cricket. It transforms your surroundings into a virtual world, where you can play cricket in world-class stadiums. This vSport provides a complete cricketing experience with highly accurate physics matching the real-time sport. Every detail like customised commentary, cheering crowd, pitch, bowlers, scoreboards, etc. are designed meticulously, giving a very realistic experience of playing cricket in magnificent stadiums. Modelled at several levels, with a personalised AI coach, and many global tournaments, this vSport enables everyone to build their cricketing career just like their favourite cricket star.
iB Cricket in association with Viu hosted the world's first Virtual Reality Cricket tournament - iB Cricket Super Over League where 12 prominent International cricketers (like Andre Russell, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Herschelle Gibbs, Brendon McCullum etc.) competed against each other.
©Cricket World 2019