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Arcadia.tv Fuses Sports and Esports To Create Real-Life Tron

Despite how rapidly technology progresses nowadays, sometimes it feels like we’re never really catching up to the lofty sci-fi ambitions of old Hollywood films. The 1982 film Tron, for instance, presented us with a neon-tinted vision of the future where players could compete in full-on digital sports. Despite all our advancements in virtual reality (VR) tech over recent years, something like The Grid still feels foreign.

But that might be about to change. Arcadia.tv is a first-of-its-kind idea that promises to be the future of sports. It combines sports and esports to create digital experiences that still require athleticism. Participants gather in a physical arena, strap on an Oculus Quest, and compete in games that combine the basics of sports and classic arcade hits. Games will be broadcast on Arcadia’s social media channels for anyone to watch. After operating in secret for three years, Arcadia.tv is ready to unleash its modern take on sports to the world.

I sat down with Arcadia.tv CEO Chris Olimpo to learn more about how it all works. According to Olimpo, Arcadia is the “missing link between esports and traditional sports” that aims to fix a huge problem with the impending metaverse.

More Tron, less Wall-E

Arcadia.tv has quietly been in development for three years. The spark for the idea came when Olimpo was working in the VR industry, creating VR experiences for big clients like Universal (Olimpo previously produced and directed a Tom Cruise VR film). While he was enamored by the tech, Olimpo became worried about the direction he saw it taking us in.

“We did this super cool thing at South by Southwest where we had people sitting in these big red chairs,” Olimpo tells Digital Trends. “I immediately thought of Wall-E and thought, ‘Oh no, this is not the future we’re supposed to build.’ And then I looked at Tron and said, ‘That’s the future we’re supposed to build. How do we build that?’”

To counteract his fears of a dystopian future, Olimpo founded Arcadia.tv. The unique blend of video games and sports puts physicality at the forefront of VR. Players compete in a digital space, but it’s more active than your standard video game. Competitors use their body as a controller, dashing around an actual arena in real time alongside their opponents.

It looks a lot like something you’d see in Ready Player One, which calls the concept of the metaverse to mind. Companies like Epic and Facebook have spent the past few years pushing to bring the metaverse concept to life by deepening our digital experiences. Arcadia very much fits into that grand future, with Olimpo calling it “the sport of the metaverse.” But as companies like Epic make content for players to sit at a computer and play, Arcadia wants to make sure we’re staying healthy in an increasingly digital future.

“To be honest, it’s our push to keep humanity in the metaverse,” says Olimpo. “I think technology does its best service when it accelerates the human experience … Arcadia is something that’s trying to remind the world that this body we have is very important. Your brain doesn’t work well without a healthy body. If you’re going to experience something in the metaverse, you might want to run around and play rather than lie down and jack in.”

Gamers versus athletes

Arcadia.tv features a number of custom-designed games that players can compete in. They tend to combine the basics of a real sport with ideas from classic games. For instance, one game has players running in-between moving digital barriers. It’s essentially Frogger meets real-life track and field.

The arcade influence isn’t an accident. Olimpo recalls an anecdote that guides the philosophy for how Arcadia’s games are built with an audience in mind.

“We were at a trade show a few years ago, and nobody was waiting in line for virtual reality,” says Olimpo. “There was this small Galaga machine, and I started playing. I was breaking 50,000, and a small little crowd started forming around me. My coworker asked, ‘What happened there?’ and I said, ‘I broke 100,000 on Galaga.’ There’s an audience experience built into this; VR doesn’t have that.”

Arcadia.tv competitors play a game on a real basketball court while wearing VR headsets.

While Arcadia.tv has yet to broadcast to viewers, the team itself is its current audience. They’ve been watching as competitors playtest the program and have found themselves surprised at the results. Olimpo is especially puzzled that gamers tend to fare better than athletes in tests, despite the latter having some physical advantage.

“With someone who’s very athletic versus someone who’s a super gamer, you really don’t know who’s going to win,” says Olimpo. “Some very athletic people just go and aren’t necessarily familiar with patterns in video games, while gamers really do get that. Gamers learn really fast, and they learn through iteration. In the first five levels, you’re pretty sure an athlete is going to win, and then there’s a tipping point where the gamer just overtakes them.”

That highlights the unique skills required for both sports and esports. The latter may not require physical strength, but quick reaction time and the ability to adapt are crucial skills for pro gamers to have. Arcadia creates a level playing field between those two disparate worlds.

The future of sports

The idea is already paying off for Arcadia. The company recently partnered with Warner Bros. to create an official Space Jam experience. The basketball game has players running around a court, picking up digital balls, and shooting them into hoops. Olimpo compares it to Pac-Man, with players chasing down pellets but mashed up with the core idea of basketball.

That’s a high-profile partnership for a start-up that’s yet to really begin. Arcadia is holding tryouts across the country to find competitors. It’ll eventually follow that up with live game broadcasts on its social media channels. For the team, the sky’s the limit. What Arcadia is doing has never really been attempted in this capacity, and Olimpo has high hopes for where it could go.

“We’re looking to level the playing field and bring respect to esports. In the same way the Olympics used to have chess and used to really respect the cognitive ability of chess, I think esports have a place at the Olympics. But with something like Arcadia, I think it makes it more palatable to the masses. There’s something about combining that cognitive and physical competition in a new way, and the truth is, we’re going to do it with or without the Olympics.”

A player in VR competition in a Space Jam basketball game via Arcadia.tv.

The only potential hurdle for Arcadia is that it’s entirely reliant on external technology. The team is at the mercy of hardware manufacturers, using Oculus Rift headsets to run games. Just an hour before our chat, Oculus recalled the foam padding in the Quest 2 due to reports of skin irritation. Any little issue with the tech presents a logistical challenge for Arcadia. Though, funny enough, the company had already created custom sweat-resistant padding to use in the Oculus, putting them one step ahead of the actual manufacturers. Olimpo doesn’t rule out a future where Arcadia simply creates its own VR headset and cuts out the middleman altogether.

Everything about Arcadia.tv is forward-thinking. It’s not a quick cash grab that’s trying to capitalize on esports or VR. It’s a carefully considered project that doesn’t just want to be a part of the move toward the metaverse; it wants to redefine it. Olimpo is already envisioning a future where the way we think about video games is entirely different than the way we see them today.

“I see a future where parents are going to tell their kids, ‘Why don’t you go outside and play video games already?’” he says.

Editors’ Choice




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MSI MEG Aegis Ti5 is an RTX 3080 gaming rig that looks like something out of Tron

If you’re a fan of unique-looking PCs, then MSI has you covered with the MEG Aegis Ti5. Being a high-end gaming PC, the Aegis Ti5 isn’t going to have a shocking list of specifications, but the case all of that hardware is arranged in definitely isn’t just a box. In fact, the Aegis Ti5’s case looks like something straight out of Tron.

It doesn’t seem to be all just aesthetics though, as there’s actually some function to the case as well. It comes with a built-in LED dial on the front that can be used for a few different purposes. It can display system status, but it can also be used to switch between a few different lighting and sound presets that can be customized through MSI’s Dragon Center program. You can also use it to launch games or even to display weather or temperature information based on your location.

On the inside, MSI says that its Silent Storm Cooling 4 will serve up separate chambers for the CPU, GPU, PSU, and VRM that allows each component to stay cooler longer under heavy loads, thereby increasing performance. Speaking of components, the Aegis Ti5 seems to come outfitted with a lot of high-end hardware, including a Core i9-10900K and up to the very hard to find GeForce RTX 3080.

Buyers also have the option of outfitting the PC with up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM, though if you’re just buying this for gaming, you probably don’t need to go quite that far. The motherboard supports Intel’s Z490 chipset and the PC uses a modular 750W 80 Plus Gold certified PSU, though MSI doesn’t confirm the manufacturer of that power supply in the spec sheet it sent over today.

The PC also comes with quite the IO array that includes 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, 1 microphone jack, 1x headphone out on the front. Around the back, we’ve got 2 USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 Combo port, one HDMI 1.4 out, another USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, 1 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 RJ45 ports, 5 audio jacks, and 1 Optical S/PDIF out.

All in all, it’s an impressive PC, but it has a starting price of $3,399 – pricing it well outside the realm of affordability for a lot of PC gamers. On the other hand, that $3,399 configuration does come with an RTX 3080, so MSI could very well find some buyers who are sick of trying (and failing) to buy a standalone 3080. The MSI MEG Aegis Ti5 is available starting today from both Newegg and Abt.

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Epic Games teases TRON as the next Fortnite crossover

Epic Games has all but bluntly confirmed an upcoming Fortnite x TRON crossover. The revelation was, as with the previous Predator teaser, made in a recently published transmission from the game’s Agent Jonesy as he details his arrival in yet another dimension. Though Epic hasn’t explicitly said that TRON is inbound, there are a few good reasons to believe it is.

Every so often throughout its fifth season, Epic has published transmission logs on the Fortnite Twitter account. These transmissions are audio logs from Agency Jonesy as he searches other dimensions for ‘hunters’ to beam back to the battle royale island.

The most recent transmission, which Epic has labeled ‘MCP-82,’ features Jonesy talking about his latest arrival in a different reality, one that involves entering it through an old, dusty computer game. We hear the sound of motorcycles, as well as Jonesy’s surprised exclamation, “Make yourself comfortable?”

That phrase is found on the loading screen for TRON, essentially confirming that this will be one of Fortnite‘s next crossovers. Likewise, the transmission log has the number 82, which likely refers to 1982, the year the first TRON movie was released.

This isn’t the first time Epic has teased an upcoming crossover in the form of an audio transmission. The company hasn’t yet revealed any images for the TRON arrival, however, nor has it stated when the crossover will arrive in the game.

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Fortnite TRON: Legacy skins revealed: See the End of Line collection

Only a day after Epic teased the upcoming addition of TRON skins in the game, Fortnite players can now head over to the Item Shop to see the new items for themselves. The TRON: Legacy additions are part of the ‘End of Line’ collection, which offers buyers access to multiple different player looks based on TRON characters.

We knew that TRON was coming to Fortnite due to an audio transmission Epic published on the game’s Twitter account yesterday. In it, Agent Jonesy described arriving in a reality where an old computer had to be used to enter it — one that advised the new arrival to get comfortable.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long to see the actual skins, unlike when Epic teased the Predator crossover. The company has just published an image of the various skins in the newly launched End of Line collection, which can now be accessed in the Fortnite Item Shop.

The End of Line collection features skins wearing the TRON light suits, including player styles for things like Packet, Firewall, Cypher, Proxy, Bitstream, Commandline, Io, Upload, and Bandwidth. Players get a removable helmet with the new skins, one with a sleek black look and bright glowing lights.

Joining the TRON skins is a rideable Light Cycle glider (the motorcycle from the movies), as well as an Identity Disc Pickaxe and Identity Disc Back Bling. The skins are priced at 1,500 V-Bucks each and the glider can be acquired separately for 800 V-Bucks.

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