Thursday, February 29

The Future of Gaming

The earliest evidence we have for our ancestors’ gaming preferences comes from the region of Mesopotamia, and the ancient civilisation of Sumer. Temples and cities were being constructed in this region of present day Iraq long before the Great Pyramid of Giza rose out of the sands of Pharaonic Egypt. Early archaeological finds of sheep huckle-bones are commonplace in the region, and are broadly thought to have served as archaic dice, anchoring the history of gambling to a date of at least 5000 BC. 

This of course suggests that as long as people have enjoyed playing games, the prospect of a friendly wager has maintained its appeal. Over the intervening centuries, improved fabrication techniques and industry have led to increasingly sophisticated gameplay styles and formats. Popular board games gave way to early mechanical games such as the one-armed bandit, and from the 1970s onwards, the earliest fully programmable “video” games were in the ascendancy.

Flash forward to the present day, and we are experiencing a moment in which the games industry has begun to supplant other media sectors, such as film, as the dominant cultural influence and driver of revenue. Activision’s Call of Duty games now out-sell Marvel movies, and everyone plays video games in one form or another, from hyper casual mobile titles, to Triple ‘A’ console hits. The promise of ever improving graphics and fidelity may have begun to slow in recent years, but continues onwards march into the future. And, for the first time since the early 90s, the idea of VR and cyberspace has gained cultural currency, pointing to something far more realized and imminently viable than the early attempts of 30 years ago. Below we’re going to be looking at 2 key areas that signify in their distinct approaches some novel ideas for where the game industry will head in the future.

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Virtual Reality and The Metaverse

Behind NFTs, no tech buzzword is more popular in 2022 than the “metaverse”. This is largely due to Facebook’s bold rebranding as Meta, which was unveiled globally alongside some compelling promotional material of what the metaverse, or Facebook’s idea of it, would look like. Developments in VR tech have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, piggybacking off of the cheaper and more powerful components developed by the smartphone industry. Sector leader Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, is joined by Sony’s PlayStation VR and other early headsets as definitive proof of concepts for the tech. Whether widespread adoption will ever happen is questionable, but there’s no denying that VR tech will eventually become far more commonplace and accessible, driving novel gameplay design and experiences.

Augmented Reality and the Promise of Holograms

AR is far less hyped-up than VR, but in all likelihood it is this technology that will attain supremacy in many areas of our lives. Augmented reality is a series of technologies that visibly add information to the real world. How this is achieved is manifold. At the moment, the most popular implementation is via a smartphone camera. Many popular AR games have already demonstrated how successful this type of format can be, with Pokemon Go, the best example, still extremely well loved and populated even 5 years after its first release. Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens and Apple’s rumored upcoming AR headset, will all contribute to raising awareness of this tech and drive fresh AR game development. Future AR tech could use beams of light to direct information onto a person’s retina, giving them a real life “heads up display” with the kind of information we tend to reach for our smartphones to access. At that point, AR games could be fully fleshed out and capable of matching anything produced in a VR headset.

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