February Power Lunch Speaker
Business meets Virtual Reality In the
New Game in Town
Written by Lori WIlliams
A new sports team with a new coach will soon play at a new arena in Oklahoma City. The competition is electric, the playing field is digital, and the rewards are real. The game is eSports and Professor Jeff Price is its driving force.
Also known as electronic sports, eSports are organized competitions between video game players. The sport is an international phenomenon, with revenues projected to top a billion dollars in 2020.
Professor Jeff Price is the eSports Director and Chair of Oklahoma City University’s Game Design and Animation Program. “We will soon break ground for OCU’s eSports arena, he says, adding that, “I am fortunate I have a career in game design and animation. We live in a world that hungers for new experiences and technology. I think this industry is really at its infancy and we’ll see more and more developments.”
To top off all this newness, in the fall of 2020 OCU will begin offering a degree program in eSports Management. Students will study broadcasting, event management, budgeting, content development, and exercise sports science.
In other words, this program isn’t all about playing games. In fact, Professor Price is enthusiastic about the impact such games can have in the fields of business, medicine, and the social sciences.
According to the Professor, augmented reality applications have the most potential for business applications. “Overlapping 3d data onto the real world is the future,” he says. “Imagine fixing a Mercedes Benz engine with no experience. Scary, right? With internet data and 3d imaging, the virtual application could walk you through step-by-step, even showing you proper technique.”
“I am really intrigued by medical uses of virtual reality (VR) as well. A researcher developed a treatment using a snow scene in VR while burn patients were being treated. I believe they saw a reduction of medication around 50%. That’s what technology should do for us.”
“I also think VR will be a way to record historical places and events. Cameras and techniques are being developed to document physical environments. These are used in the engineering fields, but I think we will eventually see it used for social purposes.”
Speaking of historical places worth documenting, there’s a restaurant in Mustang, Oklahoma that’s on Jeff Price’s list. “My first video game was on my brother’s Pong ® console . . . but I would say I really became captivated with an early game called Battlezone®. I would play it for hours at the Mustang Dairy Queen.”
Today Price teaches game design, animation, graphic design, and modeling. In so doing, he’s learned that, at first, most people don’t think they can learn the necessary skills. But then those people meet Professor Jeff.
“People can learn the software and make art themselves,” he says, while adding that the industry utilizes many skill sets, including artistic concept artists and programmers making game tools. “The creative pipeline for game art and animation has many roles.”