7 great examples of virtual sports

7 great examples of virtual sports

The Corona crisis has put some virtual sports into the spotlights as of lately. Formula one drivers racing against each other from the safety of their home or professional cyclists pedalling away in the SIM version of the tour of Flanders. As SIM games are getting better all the time, the future for these games should be bright. We discuss 5 great examples of virtual sports that come close to the real thing.

Sports simulators getting better all the time

Do you also hate it not watching any sporting events anymore due to the Corona crisis? Whether it is football, Formula 1, professional cycling or golf, the sporting world has come to a standstill. However, this is not the case for all sports. What to think of Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno completing a full Ironman thriatlon in his home for charity. He took a swim in his swimmig pool, cycled 180 kilometers on his roller trailer and ran a full marathon on his treadmill. That’s pretty creative if you were to ask me and shos what the Corona virus can unleash.

However, this was not the only way to get active in sports at home. There are some great SIM games going on, which are getting closer and closer to the real thing. What to think of for example all the SIM racing games? Or what to think of the recent held virtual Tour of Flanders? Watch this short video below where you see the highlights of the lockdown edition of one of the greatest classics in the world of cycling.

It was actually fun to watch and showed what sports simulators can bring to the table. As these SIMS are becoming better all the time, it is an easy one to say that the popularity of these games will grow, particularly as the new GenZ and GenAlpha generations like technology and expect sports to integrate this.

Also interesting to read: 10 ways to keep fit during the Corona crisis

Combining sports and technology becoming ever more popular

Most people nowadays have integrated technology into their lives. Often it adds to the experience or is it making life so much easier. Sports is no exception. Chips, wearables, monitors, Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Realitity are just a few examples of what impact technology has on sports. It not only leads to better performance and increased fun, it also reduces the chance of getting injured, it adds to the experience and convenience levels are increasing.

Also interesting to read: 10 great technologies that will change sports

Gamification and virtual sports gaining traction

In this technology perspective it should be no surprise that gamification has become more important over time and will continue to do so. Gamification can be defined as the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (quite often a sport) in order to encourage participation and/or improve performance. In the past games limited themselves to passively play from behind a game console. These are the wellkown games such as FIFA, Madden etc. These games did resemble the real thing but had no relationship with the real action. They were mainly limited to pure gameplay.

The Volvo Ocean Race game was the first game that had some virtual elements in it. The weather and route was realtime, whereas you could decide on what sails to pick and what course you wanted to sail. Nevertheless it was all still taking place from the comfort of your seat at home.

The newest games have slowly evolved in active virtual sports that can be played with Virtual Reality headsets and/or simulators. It is like you are doing the sports for real. You feel the steeringwheel trembling in your hand, you feel the resistane of your bike increasing when you are climbing a mountain. Simultaneously you are getting an actual workout.

Also interesting to read: sportification new mantra of the gameindustry

Why are these virtual SIM sports becoming ever more popular?

The increasing popularity of virtual sports can mainly be explained by the fact that they are increasingly reflecting the real sports. On top of this, there are some real big advantages that really outweigh the disadvantages.

Advantages of virtual sports

The main advantages of these sports can be summarised as follows:

  • You can play these virtual sports at home. No travel time required! You can climb the Alpe d’Huez or race in Monaco, they just are at your fingertips. Pretty good deal if you were to ask me. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about the weather! The sun always shines at home.
  • No restrictions as far as time and location is concerned. You can play at any time in any place in the world.
  • You can choose your level and your competition and there is always someone who you can try to beat or race agaist. Leaderboards and social platforms should add to the fun!
  • As the quality of these virtual sports are ever improving, they are an ideal way to train and improve your skills.

Disadvantages of virtual sports

  • Many of these virtual sports require a simulator or a VR headset plus additional software. As some of these do not come cheap yet, this may be a barrier of entrance.
  • Although quality is improving all the time, there is obviously nothing like the real thing. In racing games, you cannot feel the Gforces as of yet, whereas in golf putting still is an issue in many games.

The 5 best virtual sports around at the moment

Below we have listed some good examles of virtual sports. What you will notice is that all of them are individual sports rather than team sports. This is logical! In case of an individual sport only legs, arms, body, feel, sight and hearing of one person have to be mimicked. Team sports generally require much more space and cannot be done at home. Moreover, it is technologically more advanced as interaction with other players is neede, requiring a lot more parameters. It does not mean, it is not possible, but it will take time!

1. Cycling

Cycling is probably the best example of a sport that has been gamified. The current generations of cycling SIMS are getting pretty close to reality. Just put your bicycle on the rollers, connect it with available software and off you go. Platforms like Zwift and Bkool offer a pretty real experience including features such as resistance levels, slopes, weight, wind etc. You can ride alone or compete in a real race (at your own level) such as the video shown in the introduction demonstrates. In a race you can even have the benefit from drafting another rider. Moreover, you will make lots of new virtual friends: social engagement guaranteed! 

2. Car racing

Another very good example are the current generation of Sim racing games, which have become a real E-sport. They are incredibly popular and pretty realistic. Lots of famous F1 racers like Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are regularly participating. Just buy yourself a simulator and start competing. It is great fun and who knows you will be participating in a Sim race in Monaco. Again social engagement guaranteed!

3. Golf

Golf is a great game! Only you have to drive oot of the city to play it! Besides, it takes a long time to play your average 18 holes. Well, not any longer as there are a whole array of different golf simulation games, which you can play at home. They have been around for some time and are actually pretty good. Similar to cycling, racing and running, you can play it with your buddies online, so fun is again guaranteed. This is not all as there are even rankings and true live golf tournaments organized. So, if you want to improve your game and you have a room available with a high ceiling, feel free to tee off!

Also interesting to read: 9 great strategies to improve the future of golf

4. Running

If cycling on your rollerbank is a virtual sports, so should be running. And it is! Within this world, you can connect with people all across the world and run or cycle together in a group, give each other kudos, do your workouts and explore different virtual routes together. How much fun is that!
It definitely makes your average home workout an awful lot less boring. In fact it can become a pretty good incentive doing it as your buddie might eagerly be awaiting for you in order to do the workout together

5. Biathlon

What about this one? This is pretty cool! Many people do like to watch biathlon but do not have the means or the climate to practice the sports at home. This might be your way into this virtual sports. Watch the video below! It’s an excellent workout (Simway) and you won’t find it too easy to hit those targets.

6. Skiing

Now that we are in the snow anyway, let’s turn to skiing. Again, this can be done at home, although it might take up some space. It looks pretty spectacular doesn’t it. It definitely will help you if you are hitting the slopes.

7. Tennis

If you thought that tennis isn’t a virtual sports, you are wrong. There is actually a good one. The only culprit here is that it is a real virtual sports. It means you have to put on your VR headset in order to play it. Nevertheless, it is fun and it does resemble the sports. The Madrid Open recently announced that it will host a virtual edition due to the Corona crisis. Unfortunately, this game is not suitable for 2 persons as of yet but undoubtedly this will change in the future. Should be great in spite of you needing a pretty big room in your house.

Clearly, there are more examples of good virtual sports such as fitness and boxing and mayby I am missing a few more. Anyway, given the advantages and the social engagement opportunities, it might be a suitable alternative in some cases. If you have any other ideas or comments relating to virtual sports, please let me know!

Published by Jan Kees Mons

I am Jan Kees Mons. Just call me JK, that’s easier I guess. I am a Dutchman living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam. Right now I am living on my own. However, not for much longer, as I plan to live together with my lovely girlfriend.