One of the first (or maybe even the first?) games of chess in history played in virtual reality took place at the office of the Warsaw-based Immersion company.
The virtual chessboard became the playing field for Bartosz Soćko – grandmaster, multiple master of Poland and one of the best quick and blitz chess players in the world, and Aleksander Dumański – operating director and member of Immersion Management Board, a chess enthusiast regularly participating in professional-level tournaments.
What made this game stand out among others in the history of chess was its form. The game was played through a virtual reality system, while the board, checkers and even the players were represented in the form of 3D models and avatars.
The players were able to immerse in virtual reality by using VR goggles – Mr Soćko wore the Oculus Rift goggles, whereas Mr Dumański – the VR HTC Vive headset. Moves were made on the chessboard by using special handheld controllers which in real time recreated the actual movements made by the players’ hands, allowing them to move checkers in the same way as it is done in real life. Each player got 10 minutes per turn, which was controlled by a virtual clock measuring real time.
The application developed by Immersion allows mutual interactions between players. They see their avatars and movements and can also communicate by voice.
It is even possible to throw a virtual water bottle or to topple the chessboard – which the app will put back in order straight away.
Virtual chess enables players to enjoy such realistic games that it is easy to forget they are wearing VR goggles on their head. The scale of the room and the chessboard perceived by the player, as well as the realistic physical reactions of the available objects send such convincing impulses to the brain that it is difficult to distinguish between virtual reality and the real world.
The technology also makes it possible to set the game in any scenery. Players can meet for a game of chess in a Medieval castle, a modern apartment building or even at a space station, experiencing the game in a one-of-a-kind setting and atmosphere which cannot be recreated in the real world.
„Our aim was to create a game which will enable the owners of any gaming platforms to play together. Immersion Chess is unique not only because it uses virtual reality. It is also the first game in history which enables the owners of different VR headsets, standard computers and even mobile phones and tablets to engage in a duel. Irrespective of the platform used, they can meet at one chessboard and put their skills to the test, while being physically located in different corners of the world (or the universe), as long as they have Internet access” – explains Aleksander Dumański from Immersion
„What was the most fascinating for me was the feeling of complete ‚immersion’. My brain had been genuinely tricked and I was there, moving the pieces and pressing the clock. A very interesting experience!” – commented Bartosz Soćko after the game.
The first virtual game of chess, won by grandmaster Bartosz Soćko, ended with a beautiful checkmate.
VR chess are currently undergoing the final stage of programming – the game will be released on all available VR platforms in the second quarter of 2017.