You might think gambling in virtual worlds is science fiction but I’ve been doing it for years, but William Hill want it to be virtual reality, and plan to launch an app to allow you to experience real-life races in virtual pixel based form, but those that like to bet on sports in the UK, especially those into horse racing are unlikely to want to strap a phone to their face very often.
William Hill Gamble On VR
• Virtual view of horse racing
• Real-time GPS tracking
• A fad or the future?
I started hanging out in virtual worlds when I was fifteen. A friend had created one and let some of his closer friends use it as a playground, even allowing us to create new parts, change bits and generally run amok. It being the mid-nineteen eighties (a pre-internet era you may need to Google) it wasn’t as you might imagine it, there were no graphics, the virtual world was one of text descriptions, typed commands and was an exercise in imagination as well as dial-up technology.
Of course with the advent of the internet and three decades of hardware development such text-based worlds are now a bit of a museum piece, but from them was spawned the entire concept of VR. The desire to see what was going on instead of just reading it was overwhelming, and with advanced graphics rendering chips came the triple-A sandbox games and MMORPGs that were our teenage wet dreams are are today released year on year, but virtual reality remained somewhat unattained.
Efforts like Second Life to create a virtual world have lagged behind in terms of graphic polish and ease of interface, leaving them a niche interest for nerds, whilst the vast majority of people have turned to social media for their communication and entertainment. The technology is only just now catching up, placing it within grasp of all not just those with a burn-your-processor gaming rig in their bedrooms. However gambling in virtual worlds is still quite some way away whatever William Hill say. Or like in case of Second Life, it’s been banned already.
Gambling In Virtual Worlds
Now let me be clear. I’ve done some gambling in virtual worlds, games of chance aren’t tricky to incorporate into a digital pixel paradise. However what William Hill’s director of innovation has in mind is one of those ideas that probably seemed a surefire winner in the marketing meeting they had about it, but in practical terms he’s just unaware of how quickly people bore of even the most amazing virtual experience. Everything happens quicker in a virtual world, people finding it dull, doubly so.
The concept they have isn’t even that ground breaking. Strap your mobile phone in front of your face using a Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard and you too can be right in the middle of the action virtually. This being William Hill, who think main street Bingo is a good idea, the action is Horse racing and with a virtual projection of actual real-world races being streamed in real time, each steed tracked by GPS, Crispin Nieboer, thinks this will “bring customers closer to the sporting action”.
He’s an idiot. Gambling in virtual worlds, testing your skill in a game like poker for instance, is not the same as passively watching a digital version of something you could be watching on a big screen TV in far nicer and far greater detail. Oh sure, with VR you can ride along as if you’re the jockey of the horse you backed, but no one will want to more than a couple of times. Virtual reality has a problem, in that it’s not yet realistic enough, and gambling news of adequate tech development will arrive soon is futile.
Virtually No Point, Crispin, So Why Bother?
If William Hill want to kick start gambling in virtual worlds they’re going to have to come up with a virtual reality that looks like reality. The graphics on their new VR feature are laughably dated, and need to be in order to keep data-stream requirements anywhere near low enough to work in real time, even Crispin himself admits the technology is not quite there yet, but hopes to have something out by Christmas. This is optimism of First World War trenches ilk at best.
No one wants to strap a phone to their face, they didn’t even like Google Glass for god’s sake, sure it’ll be great for a bit of techy publicity but in terms of actually creating gambling in virtual worlds he’ll need to be far more forward thinking. The attempt to meld together the real-world and a virtual world is one that is not yet ripe, the technology not advanced enough, the real-world itself just a little too demanding to cut yourself off from it totally.
Sites like Bet365 Sportsbook, and indeed William Hill to some extent, have been at the forefront of the technological developments that have replaced a lot of the rather seedy real world gambling opportunities with cleaner, safer and easier ones online, with a greater variety than ever before. Despite the novelty all-round-vision this tech William Hill are touting, and the fact UK gambling laws will permit it, the one thing it isn’t is a view of the future and certainly not what I and most other people think gambling in virtual worlds should be. If we wanted