Virtual reality is up-and-coming beginning the year, and the Oculus Rift's and HTC Vive's releases have clearly indicated its popularity. There appears to be plenty of demand for headsets, as orders are backed up until the second half of this year. Oddly enough, I haven't heard much about the Rift since its debut, save for reviews. But then again, people have complained about some issues, such as the game libraries.
Anyway, the Oculus is just the first of VR headsets released this year, and VR is expected to dominate in the near future. Certainly not this year, but perhaps in the next couple of years. The thing is, we have no idea what kind of impact VR will even have. Will it be welcomed by open arms? Will it die out like it did over two decades ago? Will it grow out of control? Will society become isolated as a result?
Furthermore, how in the world will this affect LAN gaming, which has been deemed dead by some gamers who believe that online gaming completely erased this activity?
I mean, local-multiplayer isn't even as common anymore, and LAN, which stands for local area networking--gaming is becoming less prevalent. Would virtual reality eventually cause LAN gaming to go extinct?
In my opinion, yes, yes it can, but not for now and in the same way it can cause non-VR gaming to go extinct. This could happen only when VR becomes so affordable that the majority are able to use them and when games push to be VR-exclusive, but this year, that doesn't seem very likely. Hopefully, the omittance of LAN gaming will never occur, and VR headsets will even become so advanced and mainstream that it can promote LAN gaming and cause it to grow more popular.
So here are the following scenarios that could result from a VR-integrated world:
Perhaps see-through technology may be a thing in the near future, enhancing social awareness.
1) LAN gaming could become less popular thanks to immense VR integration.
LAN gaming could become less popular thanks to VR, that's for sure. People claim that VR is to be the next greatest social experience, and that may be possible, but if you live alone, you're still alone without human contact. And even when you're with others, they may not be interested in LAN gaming and/or you feel isolated from them anyway.
So because of that, I won't say that LAN will completely die out, per se. But there's a chance that death could occur for another reason.That reason being that games may shift toward VR-exclusivity, which would create a problem if LAN parties don't adopt VR. If VR becomes that dominant in the world, and it could, then it's likely developers may only steer development of games toward VR, which would cause LAN gaming to possibly die out unless there are VR-oriented LAN parties.
But remember, there are plenty of disadvantages for these types of parties. For one, you can't eat food together and chill around, and two, you can't throw snacks at each other.
Not only that, but the real, live presence of people provides a totally different atmosphere than VR could provide. Maybe someday if VR can emulate such a feeling... like a LAN party setting inside VR.
Speaking of which...
In this case, many gamers could bond together like so.
2) LAN gaming could become more popular than ever.
This scenario is the most interesting one. Though people say--and I partially agree with this--that being social in the real world is going to lessen as a result of VR, perhaps the opposite would be true. Perhaps VR LAN parties could exist, with nicely built rigs or VR-ready laptops, and games such as Werewolves Within will have the same effect in a physical space as in virtual space. That way, people can have a laugh at a party, and after all is said and done, everyone can snack, eat, talk about the experience, and more!
The only problem I see is the fact you can't "see" beyond your headset, and you can't examine the real reactions of your friends. Not only that, but it'd make snacking near the computer rather impossible, as you can't see the food you're grabbing (unless you memorize the position of the food).
But perhaps there's a way to integrate VR. Like maybe they would invent a type of shutter that, with the flip of a switch, would allow you to see the "real-world" rather the virtual world. I mean, it would seem easy to implement.
It would be amazing if friends could get together and enjoy VR experiences.
3) LAN gaming may not even change, as it always has had a bit of a niche audience.
LAN gaming is LAN gaming, which is always rather niche. Not everyone does it, but there is an interest. Just think about QuakeCon: that has LAN written all over it. And there are plenty of LAN parties out there. So VR may not have an impact on LAN in the slightest. As long as VR won't become entirely dominant in the video game industry, and as long as the options of LAN exist (it may not, considering the decline of LAN-compatible gaming over the years), then LAN gaming isn't going to decrease or increase.
Now, to make a final point, LAN gaming and VR may coexist, but LAN gaming could also die as a result of the growing VR industry. Perhaps LAN gaming could also thrive thanks to the VR industry. It's possible as the tides change in the gaming industry.
Then again, VR may fizzle out just like it did twenty years ago, so we may never know how LAN gaming will pan out in the future. Unfortunately, the most I can see happening is that VR games won't be completely compatible with LAN right now, but maybe in the future there could be made exceptions. Then again, there are always workarounds.
Perhaps Hamachi could be used in such cases. But personally speaking, I'd like to see some LAN capabilities intertwined with VR in the future.