Video games share many qualities with cinema, literature, and music. Possibly one of the most important is that of escapism. Being able to lose yourself in a story for a good handful of hours and forget, if only for a while, everyday life is something precious and necessary.
Three decades ago, video games were a bunch of pixels on a screen. In the times of the Atari 2600, players needed more than skill to play the game. They needed to put their imagination to work to enjoy the game, as the graphics on the screen were straightforward. Most of the time was color shapes in green over a black ground. You could have a triangle; that was your spaceship. A square or a rectangle could be a house or a base. In the famous game asteroids, random shapes were the asteroids. Details were minimal, and as we said before, all of this is left to the imagination.
On the other hand, cinema was the bread and butter of amazing things. In those times, movie directors were becoming creative and achieving new levels of reality. People could see incredible stories come to life attending the movie theaters.
The 90s was a decade when video games and movies advanced a lot. In the field of the videogames, technology progressed to the point that the videogames had more colors on the screen, and 3D became mainstream when the first consoles were released that offered native support for it, with the original PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 fighting hand in hand for market domination.
Fast forward to the decade 2000
With the establishment of 3D, the world where players were playing became even more immersive. Players were no longer limited to a predetermined course. Now they could explore in real-time a vast world with a lot of things to discover. At this time, cinema began to influence the narrative of the videogames to make them more immersive. In the ’80s and even the ’90s, the story was usually ignored. Now you were in control of the lead actor in a story – immersion at its finest.
4DX and Virtual Reality
The movie industry did not stop either. They introduced 3D and 4D, and then came a new way of going to the movie theaters called 4DX. This synchronized on-screen visuals with motions seats and different effects like water, wind, fog, and scents to enhance the audience’s immersion while watching a movie. A 4DX room pulls you into the screen and puts you right into the action.
Back in the videogames industry, the premise is the same: making the player more involved with the story. That’s why virtual reality has been something so big in these past years, and it puts the player into the videogame, making it feel as closer to the story as possible so far.
What if we could take some things from the 4DX cinemas and bring them into 3D and virtual reality games to make them more immersive. When playing a VR game, you are using 3 of your five senses. You see the action, and you hear the movement. You can “touch” the action… what if you could also smell?
Using a diffuser that can sync with the game and spread a relatable smell in the room that matches the aroma that the character could be experiencing in the environment in the game will expand the sensory experience, making the action more intense.
Imagine playing a game like Red Dead Redemption, and you are walking through the town and then entering the tavern. At that moment, the diffuser can spread a smell that’s a combination of liquor and tobacco that will make you feel like you are in an authentic tavern. Or another sandbox game like The Elder Scrolls, certain smells can be released to increase the sensation of being in the swamp when you walk into a swamp.
What about if you visit a restaurant in the game? As soon as you enter the restaurant, the diffuser could spread some food smells, making you feel really at the restaurant.
We can’t forget the Metaverse and the possible implications a device like this could have. The Metaverse aims to bring a virtual world into existence, where there will be virtual houses, virtual work, a virtual currency, and the possibility to live “virtually” there using unique VR gadgets.
Bringing the sense of smell into the equation could elevate the level of immersion that you could experience in the Metaverse. You could have
the virtual home that you will be able to decorate as you wish, but you will also be able to make it smell exactly as you want.
Imagine other people visiting your place and telling you how awesome it smells, just like real life.
The possibilities of bringing the sense of smell can create many applications for videogames and the Metaverse, in the same way as it was when it was introduced in the movies through 4DX technology.