“Gaming world as a community” — Billy Le Voir-Barry, President and Chief Esports / Gaming Visionary Officer at GENERATION Esports & Video Game Consulting
After we hosted the “Ahead in the Cloud” event on June 10, we received masses of positive feedback on how insightful the talk was. Billy Le Voir-Barry, one of the respected speakers, impressed us and the audience with his input and willingness to share his own experience as a gaming visionary. We thought it’d be awesome to invite Billy to an interview to learn more about the topic of the gaming world as a community, which he briefly mentioned last time. Below is the insightful conversation we were lucky to have.
In the early nineties, the interaction between players was narrowed down to several players being in one room. Do you recall the moment in time when the player interaction transcended the walls of physical premises? What were the technological enablers of that?
Since the gaming world is a community, the way we — the gamers — interact, engage, respond to each other was taken to the next level beyond the game walls to answer the questions like ‘What am I doing?’, ‘How am I feeling?’, ‘Is the game fun or does it suck?’. Many people didn’t realize there was a lot of valuable human engagement data. In addition to just playing the game, the gamers also like to engage in social things and behaviors. We by nature are very active in terms of communication and sharing. We are usually at the forefront of worldwide ideas. That’s how it made that jump into a ‘digital freeway’.
Covid enforced the will to engage and socialize big time. As a matter of fact, my workload during the pandemic increased by 500%, and my working time expanded to 14 hours a day keeping people engaged, looking at different types of business models, architecture, and other game/esports aspects. The pandemic blew up the idea further ‘Hey we are humans, and we need to connect in the game world’.
So now we have a fully-fledged virtual society with its own currency, language, hierarchy, clans, and so on. In your opinion, what are the next development stages of it?
I think it is going to be what I call ‘bringing the game event and the person closer together’. We have different types of AR models and engagement models that bring you into the event or bring the event to you personally. I foresee some hybrid models as well. Some people may be at home and some might be in a restaurant or a bar, but they can all be engaged in the same exact event thanks to new various models, new types of glassware for being part of the experience.
That’s where my magic 8-ball is going — bringing the community closer. Digital twins are also taking off big time now to mimic different environments whether it is gaming, training, gamification activities. Currently, I am engaged in several digital twins projects myself.
There was news about a startup called Tripp, a Psychedelic VR meditation startup that raised 11 million dollars in funding. The main idea of it is to take mindfulness structures and video game mechanics together to see if we can actually hack the way we feel. What are your predictions on gaming entering different aspects of human life?
Different real-life activities such as shopping, going to a bank, buying airplane tickets will be gamified, bringing human experience into activity. People want to see how they interact, how they behave. Gamers can see something that’s cheesy a mile away. If I am a bank customer, how do I behave in a bank, how do I interact? Many things will have to merge.
What about the game world being tied up with other economies. In what directions gaming community will evolve?
Traditionally, gamers don’t mind being catered to or advertised to as long as it is done organically. In view of this, the members of the community must understand each other, the needs. I see a lot more virtual commercials coming out where the gamers are part of real life or a product is placed into a game and this is done organically and natively. All those things will be behavior-driven very quickly. And this is not the future, it all happens right now.
In your opinion, is there any especially groundbreaking technology that changes gaming once and for all, or convergence, a combination of several technologies that does that?
Blockchain is very effective in the game world. If you move from one game to another, you take your lifestyle with you, since it is in the blockchain. Imagine you are a studio, and you merge with EA or some other triple AAA Publisher. Traditionally, it can take you three months to get your first payment. With blockchain, this can be done in six days thanks to visibility.
Also, NFTs are very striking for me as an individual. Sometimes I think about what a broadcaster or engineer does in the esport event. They are trying to grab that salient moment that is important to many people. That is where NFT can be very compelling in the gaming space. As a gamer, I want a packaged moment of something that happened. NFTs will definitely keep growing.
I like to say that the gaming world is agnostic in terms of technology. We gamers are pushing an envelope all the time. Therefore, I don’t see one single technology, I see the convergence of several technologies like platforms, broadcast tools, AR/VR tools, or different types of cloud deployments that are going to make things exciting. The big picture is a combination of tools and business models that bring us together, and now we are just taking off in those areas. We’re just scratching the surface. I think there are going to be different types of cloud deployments, more hybrid deployments, enablers of 5G, and edge-type delivery. Those things keep us architects up at night.
A gaming world as a community. Could you please tell me a little more about its pillars?
- Organic — being true to yourself, to the game, and to the community. Sometimes businesses put money first, and we can see that through the smoke.
- Responding to the community and understanding it. When Ubisoft rolled out the original Rainbow Six game, the company was sure everyone would love it. But nope, that didn’t happen as expected, because they didn’t listen to the community.
- Responding to everybody more than just the whales.
- Being inclusive. That’s one of the great things about the game world. It crosses borders, it is apolitical, it just keeps on growing. It lives beyond tags.
What can ensure the community’s sustainability and further development?
If we keep those elements I mentioned above true to who we are, that is going to be the key. The community will be more engaging, using games to cross borders and tell stories. Every country has its challenges. We can use games as a diversity bridge as well, breaking down the walls. We just want to have fun, chat with each other, push the envelope. Of course, we want to win sometimes, too. And that same competitiveness takes us to education or different edtech models, collaboration models around the world.
You are a gaming visionary. Do you feel the responsibility in the context of a huge gaming community and what contribution you plan to make in the esports domain?
When we look at how different countries engage in gaming and utilize gaming, I think they are just scratching the surface. And being a visionary people asked me to be is a huge responsibility. My task is to see how to connect the dots, so to speak, how to bring the community, technologies, advocates, influencers, sponsors together. All those people may only hear half of the story. One of the big things is using the game role and education and tie those together. Parents usually complain about their kids playing games all the time. Kids can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gaming is a great way to tie the dots, engage communities, share things across nations and prevent the brain drain. There is a lot of experience that can be learned.
Innovecs is an experienced game development company that successfully completed projects for Gameiom, Gameloft, Zynga, and NeoGames. We have been working with large-scale game publishers. Our engineers teamed up with in-house developers to augment their teams and collaborated with companies who needed to develop a game from scratch. We take responsibility for any stage of the game development as well as for the complete development process.