Today’s gaming environment is constantly being empowered by new technology, whether that means being able to enjoy responsible gambling and table games over the internet at a PA online casino or capturing Pokémon in the street using the latest augmented reality software.
The development of tech and gaming has gone hand in hand, and the video game sector is often the first to take advantage of the latest innovations. While some computer games came about as offshoots of technological innovations, such as flight simulators, in other cases tech has been conceived or refined by the designers of games before being used for other applications.
With this in mind, it’s worth looking at how far we’ve come in video and online gaming over the past 40 years, and how much things are likely to continue to change. From the early 1980s onwards, game development has been technology-driven, and companies have competed to stay at the cutting edge and so provide a more sophisticated, awesome and fun experience than their rivals.
Many of us still remember when early arcade games like Space Invaders were exciting, but they now seem incredibly primitive next to the latest instalment of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. It’s certain that the next couple of decades will bring changes that are just as radical and far-reaching.
Let’s start with an obvious one: graphics are just going to keep getting better, with higher-definition computers, consoles and tablets to support this. From Ultra 4K to 8K gaming and beyond, expect 3D photorealism or incredibly complex, immersive fantasy landscapes. Better processing power will also mean better playability, as you explore hugely detailed worlds with real depth and lifelike characters that move just like real human beings.
Facial recognition and scanning
Facial recognition software will be used to create an in-game avatar that looks exactly like you, increasing your sense of identification with the game. But it doesn’t stop there. Machine learning and scanning software will be able to use the personal information you provide to create non-player characters based on your friends and family, or on real-world celebrities. This opens up gaming to a whole new level of star guest appearances and cameos, as well as the possibility of interacting with historical figures who look 100% real.
Facial recognition and 3D cameras will also allow the game to respond to your facial expressions. Interact with NPCs with a smile or a raised eyebrow. Maintain a poker face while playing in an online casino or facing down a monster: the slightest indication of fear might cause it to attack. It’s also been suggested that the game might recognize the grimaces you make when playability is too difficult and go a bit easier on you as a result.
VR gaming is already here, with devices like Palmer Luckey’s Oculus Rift headset. In the near future, VR will become more affordable, more sophisticated and more user-friendly, with bulky headsets becoming less intrusive or even disappearing altogether, replaced by a more compact range of wearables including glasses, lightweight gloves and so on.
Advanced gesture control, using 3D cameras to track the movements of your body, will make interacting with the virtual reality environment more seamless and natural, reducing the number of sensors you have attached to you. The combination of VR with other emerging technologies will create a wealth of possible worlds for you to immerse yourself in, and even ones that you can design yourself in a form of technologically-assisted lucid dreaming.
One of the most exciting possibilities involves the development of self-learning AI to create sophisticated games that change in response to your actions, along with in-game characters that evolve the more you interact with them. To some degree, AI is already used within games, but it is deliberately kept at a lower level than it could be, for the simple reason that genuine artificial intelligence that behaves unpredictably doesn’t always make for good gameplay. Instead, we have basic AI that behaves predictably while giving the illusion of intelligence.
All this could change in the near future, as designers and AI programs collaborate to create more complex open-world environments, more realistic simulations and more options and possibilities. Imagine games that are tailored and customized for each individual player, and that can redesign themselves so that they are different each time you play them.
The future of gaming is already here and will become more widespread over the coming years, or even months. Give it ten years, as today’s most sophisticated games could seem like Pong compared to what is just around the corner.
Photograph by JESHOOTS