Reload Bar & Games co-owner Ravi Sharma shows off a virtual reality fighting game the bar has developed for future Saturday night tournaments. Photo: Stephen Jeffery
For those who've been torn between hitting the town on a wintry weekend or staying in the warmth and comfort of your slippers at home, a Canberra bar has offered a compromise.
With virtual reality gear, anyone could tune in to a 360-degree live stream of Reload Bar and Games on Saturday nights from anywhere in the world.
A camera set up in the middle of the e-sports and gaming venue broadcasts the action, allowing anyone with a pair of VR goggles to feel like they're in the room.
"In a bar or nightclub setting, a virtual reality stream makes a lot of sense, because it's an environment that has 360 degrees, whereas if you're watching sport, you're at a sideline so you don't need to look around that much," co-owner Ravi Sharma said.
Similar to a set-up at Berlin's iconic techno dance floors, the live stream was one of a range of experiments Reload had attempted with virtual and augmented reality to create new nightlife experiences.
While patrons were once restricted to sitting with console controllers or PC keyboards, the bar's development wing, Reload Labs, has invented VR party games that would get them up and moving.
A game currently in demo mode would bring a new meaning to the term "bar fights", as two players at opposite ends of the room would punch it out on VR gear without landing a single physical blow.
The idea of creating an updated version of Pong, in which people would stand in for the classic arcade game's paddles as the ball bounced across the room, was also considered.
Business cards from the bar can display augmented reality games through a smart phone app, changing a flat table surface into a miniature racetrack through the device's camera.
Virtual reality versions of cricket, AFL and other Australian sports will soon be released.
Mr Sharma said that VR had long been considered a solo gaming experience, but the technology allowed e-sports bars to consider a whole range of new activities.
"It's also given us the chance to finally bring together gaming and sport, because you're still playing those games while actively exercising and moving around," he said.