Immersive Futures Gaming - February 2020

It was a cold, January night and our friends at The Department invited us to join their thought leadership event – Immersive Futures.

Never one to miss out on the opportunity to share a few glasses of red with likeminded people, I found myself experiencing a surprisingly thought-provoking & inspiring evening surrounded by a select creative community network of immersive industry leaders and cultural pioneers.

“Immersive experiences are here to stay”

This opinion was unanimous. With the term “immersive” potentially becoming one of the most over-used marketing terms to date, The Department launched the forum Immersive Futures to challenge the misinformation around anything and everything “immersive”.  The forum explores the passions, innovations, trends and disruptors in the immersive space, with voices that carry responsibility within the industries immersive is breaking into.

“The gaming industry will produce $196 billion in revenue by 2022”.

The Department’s John Quirke reported that experts forecast the gaming industry will produce $196 billion in revenue by 2022. Quote Business Insider 2019.  Gaming, which is now reported to be worth more than the entire film and music industries combined, is acknowledging that the immersive trend is transforming how audiences interact in both digital and physical worlds.

Gaming, the topic for this particular Immersive Futures forum, reminded us that it is not just playing on computers/online but live interaction too.  The Immersive Futures panel  – a small select group of gaming experts – Andy Payne – OBE, British e-sports Assoc, Advisory Board Chair,  Lindsey Eckhouse – G2 e-sports Commercial Director, Cat Channon – EA Games (Electronic Arts) European Corporate Communications, Neil Connolly – Artistic Director Crystal Maze Live, Vicenc Marti – President The Department and Susan Cummings MD Tiny Rebel Games shared their views.

How will the technologies of immersive gaming evolve?

The panel kicked off discussions by asking how the technologies of immersive gaming will evolve and where does this leave innovators and their ethical responsibility to gamers, specifically the younger and future generations?

Panel chair, Andy Payne suggested that in these bleak Brexit clouded days, the gaming community could be an indication of how the world could work and exist outside the political mist. Gaming communities are shaping the world of the future, a metaverse, where cultures, continents and gender can cross, mix and work together outside political influence.

However, Payne questions, if this future community is not guided responsibly, it could lead us, quite literally, into the world of “Ready Player One” where interaction with others exists only within a generated immersive world.

Responsibility around the regulation of these communities is therefore essential for safeguarding “players” in a live experience and “users” of an online game,  but how do we as responsible industry leaders do this?  Actors union Equity are leading the way and have just started to issue new contracts specifically designed for immersive workers.  They have acknowledged that in immersive there is a long term difference and are responding to this.

Catherine (Cat) Channon – EA games, encouraged us all, as we look to the future, to be caretakers of nostalgia.  As immersive rises, everything blurs, especially the division between storytelling and gaming.

Immersive experience, with its origins in theatre, works best when it is combined with technology. The successes of Secret Cinema and The War of the Worlds; The Immersive Experience is testament to this,  with nostalgia as its draw, these expose audiences to otherworldly experiences. There is undoubtedly a race in entertainment, culture, marketing and gaming to exploit anything immersive and to blur the lines between storytelling and gaming.

Neil Connolly reminded us that we should strive to deliver more than an audience expects from an immersive experience.  “Don’t respond by giving the audience what they want…give them what they need.”

VR & AR can provide the technology vehicle.  VR has not yet had its day and the benefits of the VR immersive experience now reach far beyond entertainment.  Nurses are currently trialling a VR experience to understand dementia – immersive in healthcare is a pending topic for Immersive Futures.

For most, the future seems to lie in AR and more specifically wearable AR.  In my days as an Art student, the first thing we were taught was to look around and take note of everything we see, re-teaching us how to look at the world.  The daily pressures of no time to look around, only time to look down at our phones means we see the world differently to when we were younger – after all “we are the last generation to play outside”.  AR forces us to look around us, in a way that VR can’t. This year, Susan Cummings – Tiny Rebel Games, are bringing an AI experience, in conjunction with Aardman, to Bristol where participants from aged 8 to 80 can take part in a story with family favourites Wallace and Gromit.

In summary, the future of immersive will be strong when AR & VR combine with live experience.   According to Lindsey Eckhouse, wearable AR could be available within 5 – 10 years, meaning we could see a future where esports will be included in the Olympics.  With teenagers in Essex winning $1m playing universal Fortnite, this global gaming certainly becomes food for thought!

Thanks to all at The Department….here’s to the next Immersive Futures.

If you want to find out more about Scene2, contact us.


CREATIVE CONSULTANCY – Concepts, design, scamps, 3D visualisations and technical drawings – We have long and varied project experience, across all immersive media, which enables us to contribute expertise and opinion towards your immersive project at any stage CONCEPT CREATION – Original physical environments can be developed from your project brief; alternatively, we can aid in the refinement of existing concepts to ensure the best possible result. IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGIES – Location Based Entertainment (LBE) environments for Immersive Technologies, inclusive of but not limited to, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality, and projection mapping SET BUILD – Carpentry, metalworking, fibreglass, CNC machining, 3D printing, paint spraying, graphic print application, sewing and after the event is over we can offer storage too PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT – Project management, asset management, RAMS, touring & logistics organisation, whether permanent, semi-permanent, touring, or pop up. SYSTEM/LAYOUT DESIGN – We design your layout and develop a bespoke system of integrated components designed to maximise audience immersion and throughput whilst minimising staff workload.