A Look into the Future of Gaming
It is quite amazing to see how far the gaming industry has come, from having two-dimensional games and 32-bit graphics, to the amazing 3D games we have today. Games have become incredibly immersive and transport players into amazing virtual worlds thanks to new graphics capabilities and the use of cinematics within games.
For me, gaming is more than just a way to pass time. I find the technology to be fascinating and there is a lot to appreciate about the way video games have advanced. As previously mentioned, game designers are now heavily utilizing cinematics within their games. In fact, a commercial for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was aimed at advertising the way in which the game’s graphics were comparable to those seen in films. In the commercial, a guy is trying to play Uncharted 2 but his girlfriend comes in with a bowl of popcorn, not realizing that what she’s watching is, in fact, a game. As someone who has played through the majority of the series, I can definitely say the graphics of the games have improved with every release. There is no doubt that the gaming industry as a whole is producing much higher-quality games with more immersive graphics. I mean let’s be fair, what would appeal to you more? A first-person game where the sounds and controller vibrations make you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action, or an 8-bit arcade game like Pacman? The content could be altered so they’re both the same; for example, Battlestar Galactica is a newer, first-person view of a similar arcade game, Galaga. Both games are based in space, however Galaga is top-down rather than first-person. Players will likely say they were more immersed in the Battlestar Galactica game due to its first-person view and 3-dimensional graphics. Even more realistic are the new augmented-reality and virtual reality technologies.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets are two of the gaming industry’s newest platforms. For someone looking to transport his/herself into a new reality, VR will surely do the trick. For anyone who may not know, augmented reality combines the world around you with computer-generated content, while virtual reality builds an entire game around you and gives the illusion that you are someplace different. The AR interface is as immersive as gaming can get (for now, at least), as it utilizes your view of the “real world” and alters it to fit with the content of the game.
I spoke with a fellow student who took COM 219 (Video Game Design & Culture) with me - Celine Fucci. In this class, we were tasked with creating a new video game by the end of the semester. For their game, she and her group decided to use the Microsoft HoloLens, which is an Augmented Reality headset. Celine’s group attempted to create a Fruit Ninja-style game, however they were faced with many challenges as the system is rather new and her team didn’t have much of a programming background. Celine is currently studying Interactive Media & Game Design here at SUNY Poly, and when I asked why she decided to build an AR-style game, she replied, “I wanted to challenge myself by learning a new technology.” Considering the technology is fairly new and tutorials are rather difficult to follow, their team did considerably well in meeting their goals. Another challenge they faced, Celine said, was that they were limited to learning an entirely new technology in just one semester. This is a huge issue that game designers often face. While the requirement for this project was to produce a demo of the game, learning to use a brand new technology in just a few months is just shy of impossible. “For right now, I don’t think I would try working with AR again. I would wait until it gains more support from the community,” Celine stated. Augmented reality has been overshadowed by virtual reality as of now in the gaming industry, however both are growing rapidly in popularity. The Steam Community is steadily adding more and more VR and AR games to their collection, which is helping to grow demand for even more. In fact, the gaming community as a whole is growing more popular, as the technology is becoming more advanced and the community also appears to be growing inclusive by today’s standards. Another reason for this is the rise of mobile gaming. With nearly each and every person walking around with a mobile device in hand, mobile games are becoming more widespread. Examples of these include Temple Run, Pokemon GO, and Super Mario Run. While the former of these three games is less popular now as it was when it first came out, there are still people who play it today.
Along the lines of mobile gaming, Celine has mentioned to me that she is interested in building a mobile application. “If anyone is interested in building a mobile application, it would be cool to get a group of students together to talk about it. It can be simple, but I think that knowing the basics of how to build a mobile application is a valuable skill.” If anyone may be interested in talking with Celine about building an app, feel free to get in contact with her as she would love to explore this field.
As someone who spends a large portion of their time playing games, I am always interested to explore what the future of gaming looks like. The latest technology is exploring the world of virtual reality and augmented reality, which is pretty amazing considering where we were 20 years ago. I’m sure I’m not the only one who still enjoys playing Super Mario Bros. on the good old NES, even if it is dated. It is interesting to see what types of games/platforms will stick around over time, and what we will develop later on down the road. Regardless, I am happy to enjoy what the current industry brings and so far, they haven’t disappointed (except for No Man’s Sky, but we don’t talk about that). I believe the future of gaming looks bright, and as Celine mentioned, “AR has a lot of promise for the future. The Microsoft HoloLens is just one device that is out there today. VR also has a lot of promise for the future.” One competing product is Google’s Daydream, a newly launched headset designed for android phones. These new developments are exciting and I can’t wait to see what the next big thing in the gaming community will be.