Few other industries are as technically competitive as the video game business. Since the earliest console wars between Nintendo and Sega, to the current PC vs. Console vs. Mobile war that we see waged on a daily basis, the gaming world has always been powered by developers’ needs to push the envelope and make faster, better games. An incredible amount of gaming demand from casual to hardcore players has forced the industry to think outside the box and come up with new ways for enthusiasts to interact with games using nearly all of their senses.
The earliest console and PC titles were limited to the peripherals necessary to use the game. Big, boxy television sets, square computer monitors and dial-up Internet. Now, the rest of the electronics and home service provider world has caught up with the games community and together they work in tandem to deliver home gaming experiences that at the start of the new millennium seemed a world away. Let’s look a bit closer at the latest technical achievements in the gaming industry…
The Visual Improvements
Better and more appealing graphics has always been the #1 advancement method for video games. Pixelated characters and levels from the original glory days of Nintendo are long gone and now photo-realism is the standard that the majority of developers strive for. Here are just a few of the techniques and technologies being used in today’s top technical games:
Lighting: Lighting was an unknown quantity in gaming for well over a decade. Now, developers work tirelessly on games like Rise of the Tomb Raider to make sure that every crate, building and object accurately portrays in-game lighting as it would in the real world, including shadow placement, glare and reflection.
4K Definition: The shift from SD (Standard Definition) to HD (High Definition) is one of the hallmark achievements that sent gamers out of the arcades and running for their home setups. Now, 4K looks to push that benchmark even higher, producing sharp, crystal clear graphics in titles such as Just Cause 3 and The Division, providing detail landscapes that look like they were pulled from a photograph.
Motion Capture: Remember when characters used to move like they were on a ridge hinge system with little fluidity? That’s because it was difficult to match real life movement from a purely technical standpoint. Borrowing from the motion capture technology used earlier in the movie industry, gaming can now provide character animations that are leaps and bounds better than what was possible even a few years ago. Look no further than in modern sports games like FIFA 16 or Madden to see what current motion capture technology has done for gaming.
The Interaction Factor
Nearly every gaming expert agrees that one day soon, gaming platforms such as consoles and PC will simply hit a graphics wall, meaning the games will be so lifelike that the technical advancement will begin to slow significantly as we run out of improvements to make. As a result, developers are instead looking at alternative means of interacting with games, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and even games that use your sense of smell. Here’s where the most successful trends are at currently:
Virtual Reality: Although it’s now getting a great amount of attention, VR has been around for many, many years, but developers have never been able to make it add to the experience in a meaningful way. Now, wearable devices such as the Oculus Rift are beginning to finally breech the boundaries of virtual reality, giving players a more robust sensory experience with their games.
Augmented Realty: Virtual reality, at least in its current form, won’t really work with mobile games for obvious limitations, but that’s where augmented reality comes in. Pokemon Go is a great example of how far augmented reality technology has come for smart devices, allowing users to see and capture Pokemon using their camera screens while still showing imagery from the real world around them. Considering the success of Pokemon Go, you can expect many copycats to flood the market in the near future, which may be a good thing as it will force those involved to push the technology even more.
Leagues and Stat Tracking: Competitive eSports is fast becoming a new national pastime for many gaming markets around the world, allowing players to compete on a global scale and be tracked and compared against competitors. This extends into the gambling gaming arena as well, where sites like 888 Poker offer unique custom poker video segments that you can create to show off your own accomplishments.
Sensory Technology: Imagine walking into a restaurant inside a game and being able to smell the food on the counter, or using your own legs to walk around inside a gaming environment? All of these technologies are currently in development, as they are viewed to be the next step in player immersion in gaming worlds. They’re all in the testing phase at this point, but expect big movements in the next 5-10
With all of the new hardware, software and experimental technology on deck, it is a great time to be alive for a gamer.