Winner Chuck, with former MLB All Star Fred Lynn (in white)
Major League Baseball hosted the finals of its VR Home Run Derby today at the All-Star FanFest to see who could hit the most virtual dingers. You can watch the nearly three hour long event here on YouTube, or maybe just skip around and see a few seconds of it to get the idea. Played in MLB Home Run Derby VR (which is on Steam, currently with mixed reviews) the event saw a kid named Coop versus a kid named Chuck—two very good baseball names—make it to the finals. Chuck won.
It was weird for me, for a moment at least, to see full grown adults stepping in against some very young kids in the derby. But then I remembered it's a videogame, where kids play against adults all the time (and often trounce them). And since it's VR, it's got nothing to do with height or weight or power, because you're swinging a fake bat at a virtual ball. I guess it's no surprise the kids utterly destroyed the adults. One grown-up named Doug was actually wearing batting gloves. In a VR baseball game. I guess he was taking it very seriously, since a trophy and tickets to the All-Star Game were on the line.
Those gloves didn't help Doug much, as a kid half his size named Auggie took him to school before celebrating with (of course) a Fortnite dance. Auggie was eliminated before the finals, sadly. That kid could go yard.
Besides reinforcing that kids are better at videogames than adults, there was another lesson learned from the event: Home Run Derby VR is a pretty awful game to broadcast live. The views shown were from the perspective of the virtual batters, and people with headsets aren't always looking where you might want them to. There's a lot of head-wobbling and wavering and you can't really even see the bats being swung very clearly. In each match, two players were batting simultaneously but swinging at different times, leading to a fair amount of confusion from the broadcasters as to who was in the lead. VR broadcasting has a ways to go.
But virtual baseball is also in its infancy, and I'm sure as the years pass the problems will get ironed out. In the meantime, congratulations to Chuck. Enjoy the All-Star Game.