Online and video gaming is driven by technology and will always reflect the latest capabilities and advances. In a highly competitive industry, developers can’t afford to be left behind. Millions of pounds are continually invested in using technology to give improved graphics, functionality and playability so as to stand out in an overcrowded market.
If we look at the history of gaming, we can see that the technology has improved in leaps and bounds since the earliest computer games appeared in the latter half of the twentieth century. At first, games for home computers struggled to reproduce the graphics and playability of arcade machines, but even those seem laughably simplistic compared to the games of today, less than 50 years later.
The improvement from the primitive PC games of the early 1980s to the complex, photorealistic games of today is a huge leap. The pace of technological advancement really picked up around the turn of the century, and the last five years or so have seen even greater and more radical steps forward. The immediate future will see even more disruptive changes that literally promise to blur the distinction between video games and reality.
Behind the scenes
Some of the most exciting developments are taking place in the world of online casinos, where providers strive to replicate the atmosphere and environment of real-world casinos, as well as providing secure payment and withdrawal methods for customers. Although the games should appear effortless, the back-end technology behind the scenes is incredibly advanced and is constantly being updated.
Ground-breaking visuals and 3D graphics can be as much of a selling point as the best casino welcome offers in attracting players to a site. Casino sites are also among the first to experiment with virtual reality, in order to give an immersive, emotionally engaging experience when playing games like blackjack and poker. With the popularity of these sites generating large amounts of money, expect to see this cash reinvested in more cutting-edge tech in the future.
Recognition and control
Some of the most interesting recent advances have been in technology that recognises players’ movements, expressions and voices and lets them use them to direct the game, instead of pressing buttons or manipulating a joystick or mouse. Voice recognition software can let you turn your device on or off, play music, launch social media and so on. The next step will be for it to let players talk directly to the characters in the game. Artificial intelligence (AI) programmes will let them respond intelligently to questions and orders.
Gesture control is also a reality, allowing your computer to respond to a wave of your hand or even a facial expression. In a first-person shooter, this can let the game protagonist move as you do, creating an even more immersive experience. For full identification, 3D scanning and digital cameras can give the main character your facial features or expressions.
Ray tracing and physical rendering
Five or six years ago, games developers began building environments as collections of simulated physical objects rather than as mere backdrops. This meant that the environment was much more responsive to player actions, allowing them to explore within houses, cave systems and compounds or blow them up if they felt like it. This increased ability to go “off piste” hugely enhanced the world-building possibility of games.
A huge amount of research was conducted into reproducing the play of light in the real world, which makes a massive difference to how things appear to us. Ray tracing involves shooting multiple rays of light into a scene to simulate the interaction of daylight with surfaces from buildings and weapons to skin, hair and clothes. Realistic glows, glints and shadows are extremely difficult to recreate, but today’s games can achieve results that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
Improved graphics in games require hardware and software capable of handling them. Not all PCs and consoles today are capable of getting the full impact of cutting-edge games, but that is rapidly changing. Old-style Flash graphics are a thing of the past, and the new generation of consoles are designed to be able to handle Ultra 4K graphics and high-definition displays.
From the earliest text-based games and vector graphics, to 2D, side-scrolling and on to the first 3D games in the 1990s, video games have continued to make major advances. We went from 8-bit to 16-bit, 32-bit to 64-bit, and finally the beginning of the modern era, with the first Xbox and the PlayStation 2.
Now, mobile gaming, online games hosted on the cloud and wearable gaming technology all represent the current frontier. The future will see more exciting developments as games continue to push at the limits of what we can experience and imagine.