How the Tobii Eye Tracker could help grow R6 esports

See through the dragon's... whoops.

Screengrab via Ubisoft

The Rainbow Six United States Nationals just wrapped this past weekend. While everyone’s focus is rightfully on newly-crowned Team USA 2019 Spacestation Gaming, there was another aspect to be excited about at R6USN. 

The Tobii Eye Tracker returned to the R6USN Finals this year, and again, it begs the question of why it isn’t implemented across more LAN events. There’s clearly an upside to it and it seems odd to make such a big show of it at a LAN event two years in a row and not do much else with it. Using Tobii eye-tracking could have a few benefits, and as long as the players aren’t distracted by the hardware’s presence, then it seems like a match made in heaven. 

The use of the Tobii Eye Tracker at the R6USN Finals was relatively sparse compared to what it could have been—it could’ve been running the entire time. While the ring that indicates where the player’s eyes are looking may be distracting for some, it can also prove helpful for others. Fans caught more glimpses of the Tobii Eye Tracker in action as the tournament neared its closing matches but it felt like a missed opportunity overall. 

Rainbow Six esports is filled with moments where fans will hear broadcasters praise players for their near-psychic ability to predict where enemy players are lurking. For fans new to R6 esports, it can seem a bit suspect when a player pre-fires or snaps on an opponent with near inhuman reflexes when they were seemingly unaware of their presence. This is precisely why the Tobii Eye Tracker is a great addition to R6 esports when it comes to growing viewership. 

By helping fans visualize the internal thought process of each player, it can educate fans on what they might want to look out for when they’re playing at home or trying to enter the competitive scene. This obviously won’t make a great gamer out of a so-so one, but it’ll help inform their playstyle and serve as the gateway to understanding the game on a deeper level fundamentally. Above all, though, it makes the esport more accessible for newcomers. 

Allowing the fan to see where the player is looking at all times gives fans the opportunity to try to understand the decision-making behind certain plays, much like  Devin “mzo” Becker points out in the above clip. When accompanied by mzo’s expert analysis, the Tobii is put to even better use since it serves as a visual aid for both mzo and the audience. While mzo doesn’t need this kind of assistance, it makes the information he’s relaying a bit more clear to the viewer, especially newer ones. 

There would be complications with using the Tobii Eye Tracker or a similar device during the regular season of the Pro League, however, since it would involve a tremendous investment and, most likely, some unnecessary bureaucracy. Having some form of visualization available during the regular season might be a pipe dream, but having eye-tracking at all major LAN events might actually help the esport grow. 

Rainbow Six Siege is a tremendously complicated game and jumping into playing or just spectating can be uncomfortable for newcomers. Ubisoft has put great effort into making Siege as friendly to new players as possible. Free weekend, Discovery playlists, and even Newcomer playlists have all done a great job of helping the community grow. The inclusion of the Tobii Eye Tracker at more LAN events would add to the growing list of newcomer-friendly additions the developer has made. 

Obviously, this element isn’t for everyone and veteran players or viewers may even find it distracting. There’s no way to please every nook and cranny of the Siege community—and that’s where the complications really lie. Ubisoft didn’t bring back eye-tracking at the R6USN Finals for no reason and it would add an interesting element to how viewers interact with R6 esports overall. More conversations might take place in the chat instead of just random copypastas. 

The Rainbow Six Pro League returns Jan. 6, 2020 for season 11. Fans can catch the official broadcast here.