Computer games have come a long way since their earliest days over 60 years ago. Today, many games blur the lines between reality and fantasy.
They are even being used for educational purposes.
Around the world, millions of people have become enraptured with the products of the industry - sometimes at the cost of their health. But, for most, computer games have changed the world beyond all recognition to only a few decades ago.
Here we explore some of the main technological developments that have changed the gaming industry forever.
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What are some technologies that have changed gaming?
To date, there are various discrete technologies that are changing gaming forever. According to sites like Mentalfloss and Thriveglobal, they include, but are not limited to: -
- Facial recognition.
- Voice recognition.
- Gesture control.
- Amazing graphics.
- High-def displays.
- Virtual reality.
- Augmented reality.
- Wearable gaming.
Can a computer scientist make games?
Actually, they can. In an interview in the gamingindustrycareerguide.com, a Computer Science Degree can actually be useful for creating games. Computer Science degrees teach you, at some level, to be able to code and program.
These are highly portable skills that will serve a computer scientist well for designing games.
"Game designers are often required to use scripting languages which are similar to programming languages to create game’s levels, missions, and other player interactions." - gamingindustrycareerguide.com.
Of course, a Computer Scientist would need some additional training on the job to be able to create games. But they have a good head start.
What do video game designers use?
Video games, today, are designed and built using various tools. According to sites like itstillworks.com, some common game-design software include, but are not limited to: -
- Game Editor or engine - e.g. The Unreal Engine. These control how stuff moves and interacts within the game.
- Animation Tools - Software that allows 3D digital models to be animated.
- Modeling tools - These are used to design characters, vehicles, terrain, etc.
- Sound tools - To make all the awesome sound effects your game will need.
- Video tools - Every computer game worth its salt has some cutscenes. You might even want to include some live actors in there too.
7 technologies that have changed computer games forever
So, without further ado here are 7 technologies that have changed the way we play computer games forever. The following are in no particular order and are far from exhaustive.
1. AI has and continues to change gaming
Artificial Intelligence has come on leaps and bounds over the years and its integration into gaming changed gaming forever. From NPC's to solo-gaming, AI has been upping the ante for gamers from the very early days of gaming.
Early games like Pong had a very basic form of this technology. But what has changed the most in modern times is the way in which modern AIs in games are almost able to mimic human players.
Today, they are all over the place from Civilisation to the infamous AI-Xenomorph in Alien: Isolation. And it is getting better all the time.
For this reason, AI is probably one of the biggest technological innovations that has and will continue, to improve the gaming experience for human players.
2. Online gaming was revolutionary
Today most games are either primarily intended for online gaming or have an element of it built-in. But this is a relatively new innovation in the history of gaming.
This is especially true for things like MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) where online gaming has become an entirely different experience today.
Long gone are the days where multiplayer games were only possible when having your friends physically close to the computer or console. Nowadays you can connect with millions of other players anywhere in the world 24/7.
This is set to remain a staple of gaming in the long run and is, quite frankly, one of the greatest additions to the experience of gaming.
3. The rise of 3D
With pretty much all modern games comprising 3D rendered characters and environments, it is hard to imagine what gaming would be like without it. But this is only a fairly recent innovation.
While there were games, like Red Racer, in the 1970s and 1980s that were, ostensibly, 3D, it wouldn't be until the 1990s that they would become commonplace. Most early 3D games were not the best looking and, in some cases, were deeply unpleasant to play.
Games like Quake, Wolfenstein 3D and Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight (yes we went there), completely changed gaming forever. No longer would simple 2D games cut the mustard.
"Now, most games are three-dimensional games. With the betterment of graphics software, they are even looking better. The stride to the third dimension has changed something fundamental regarding the way games look and feel." - digitaledge.com.
4. Graphics are blurring the lines between reality and gaming
Game graphics are becoming ever more sophisticated with each passing year. But even the simplest modern games make older games, like Pong, look very basic indeed.
While linked in part to the 3D gaming revolution above, this is worthy of its own recognition.
Graphics technology has really changed beyond all recognition today. Graphics have improved hardware like processors and have enabled games to become remarkably life-like.
The incremental improvement in computer hardware now enables ever more instructions, pixels, shading and enormous scale to be developed and enjoyed by gamers the world over.
5. Portability was a huge leap-forward
Another massive milestone in gaming was the advent of portable gaming systems. Early examples, like the Microvision, appeared in the late 1970s.
The result of miniaturizing gaming systems suddenly allowed gamers to be freed from their home.
Now they could carry their games with them, play them anywhere they desired and play with their friends wherever they pleased. New game genres exploded with the systems like the Gameboy and Pokemon, for example, becoming synonymous with one another.
As time went by newer more powerful systems arose like the Sony PSP and many other copycats. The world of gaming would be changed forever.
6. The move to smartphones and gaming apps
With portable gaming a huge industry by the time cellphones became mainstream, it was only a matter of time before the two were combined in some fashion. Many models of mobile phones prior to smartphones had inbuilt games like Snake or Tetris but they paled in comparison to what was to come.
As smartphones became more and more ubiquitous a virgin land appeared for computer games to exploit. Computer games no longer became the reserve for "gamers" as anyone could download one for free or for a small fee.
"While not everybody might be happy to invest in a PC specifically for playing games, a console, or other gaming technology, everybody splashes out to get the latest and greatest phones. Today’s smartphones are incredibly powerful and can be used even for performance-intensive games. So much so, that demand for app developers has mushroomed and hired for such positions has become quite a task." - digitaledge.org.
7. Virtual Reality might be the next big step forward
But the next big leap in gaming could be on its way. As virtual reality becomes ever more immersive, we could be about to see the next evolution for the media.
"IDC predicts that the virtual and augmented reality market will dramatically expand from just over $9 billion last year to $215 billion by 2021. That incredible 118% compound annual growth rate would make VR one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet." - viar3460.com.
But will it live up to the claims made about its potential? Only time will tell.