5 Ways Tech Is Transforming the Way We Game

August 19, 2016

11:45 am

The video game industry has made tremendous strides since the early days when the whole business revolved around arcades. Today you can enjoy games virtually anywhere, on virtually any piece of electronic hardware. Games have conquered computers, phones, home entertainment centers, and much more. Here’s a brief look at some of the key technological changes that are currently shaping video games.

Games Are Smarter Than Ever Before

The overwhelming majority of video games are built to rely on some form of competition – that is, you need both a game and someone to play against. Although true multiplayer games are more popular than ever, the lack of other players has never stopped video games from being entertaining. There’s always been artificial intelligence in the mix to give solitary players the challenge they’re looking for. Today’s artificial intelligence is becoming incredibly real.

Some of the best AI work in video gaming today is on display in first-person shooter games. Programmed enemies behave with sensible, realistic tactics. They use grenades when they’re appropriate and attempt to flank human players. Every year brings new innovations and new challenges to the artificial intelligence showcased in video games. Considering that this aspect of gaming has been important for the entire history of the industry, the latest breakthroughs in AI are tremendously important.

Online Play Is Thriving

In the past, there were sharp limitations on just how much multiplayer action was practical or feasible in a video game. There were only so many ways to cram multiple people in front of a single TV with early game consoles, for instance. Thanks to the Internet, those days are over and gamers from around the world all have the opportunity to play together. The Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMORPG, is just one of the genres that’s been revolutionized by online connectivity. This aspect has reached out into nearly every type of game. Even traditional card games like poker are now as likely to feature international online matchups as traditional face-to-face play all of which has created significant growth.

Geographic distance no longer presents any barrier to gamers who want to get together. The most successful and persistent online games end up becoming whole communities unto themselves. World of Warcraft, for example, isn’t just the world’s most successful MMORPG. It’s also a community of eight million people around the world.

Tackling the Third Dimension – All Over Again

We live in a three-dimensional world. For many years in the early stages of the video game industry, game developers were unable to reflect that fact due to the limitations of contemporary hardware. Games were mostly limited to two-dimensional graphics that put a sharp border around the visuals they could show to players.

This changed a few decades ago when the processing power to create three-dimensional worlds came within reach of the average gamer. Now even casual games intended for use on modest hardware – like smartphones – take full advantage of three-dimensional rendering.

At the cutting edge of the video game industry, there’s a brand new 3D revolution happening right now. The software and hardware have gotten advanced enough to truly embrace the next step in realism – virtual reality. What has been a movie house fiction for so many years is finally becoming a reality for more and more dedicated gamers. The best 3D VR headsets on the market, teamed up with some of the best gaming headsets of 2016 makes a pretty devastating mix and will transport those using them somewhere different completely.

Continual Graphical Refinements

No matter how revolutionary it was at the time, few of the people who were fascinated by the groundbreaking video game Pong were attracted by the machine’s graphics. Stuck in two dimensions, using minimal animation, bereft of any graphical sprites, and not even equipped to display colors besides black and white, Pong was proof that great games don’t require great graphics.

The best games are just as engaging visually as they are mentally, though. Every year brings more robust hardware into the market, and developers are constantly pushing it to its limits. The result for gamers has been a long history of constant improvement on the graphical front. The future of video games looks bright in terms of graphics.

Games Are Everywhere

Technology in general always tends to get smaller and lighter as it gets more refined. Gaming is certainly no exception. Thirty years ago, it was all about condensing video game consoles into handheld versions. Games could come out of the TV room and live in your pocket.

Today the market for dedicated portable gaming machines is dying out. It’s not because of a lack of interest or because of technological limitations. The rest of the world has simply caught up to video gaming, and the other electronic devices we carry every day – our phones and tablets – have turned out to be superb gaming platforms in their own right.

Predicting the future of video gaming technology isn’t easy. Some of the points addressed here have been matters of slow, incremental refinement that are easy to see coming. Other features have exploded onto the industry out of nowhere, reshaping it dramatically. The only thing we know for certain is that video games aren’t going to be disappearing anytime soon.

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As someone with a love of rugby, marketing, social media, craft beer brewer and music - I'm delighted to contribute to Tech.co. Follow me @brightoncormac or check out one of our great infographics

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