Video games have come a long way since the early days of Nintendo 64, Atari 7800, and classic titles such as Donkey Kong and Mario Kart. Gaming has become a global culture, attracting both the young and old. According to recent statistics, well over 2.5 billion people worldwide play video games, and as a commercial industry, the gaming market generated nearly $135 billion in 2018.
What’s more, video games have become widely available and affordable to both gamers and non-gamers. Despite the many different gaming platforms available today, there are programming pioneers building tools such as the unity plugin allowing players to enjoy cross-platform games. Although large gaming companies still call the shots, tech innovations and social trends also heavily influence the direction of the gaming industry.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
VR and AR have become buzzwords in the visual entertainment scene. These two technologies are the last word in immersive visual entertainment (at least for now). VR is a simulated experience that adapts the feed according to the viewer’s orientation, movements, and actions. AR is more of an interactive experience that allows the user to interact with digital elements perceptualized in the natural world environment.
Both technologies are still not refined enough for the mainstream market, but the game and computer developers have made remarkable strides recently towards improving the end-user devices and underlying architectures. Some developers have already released triple-A titles with impressive VR and AR features and capabilities.
Inclusivity in Games
Over the last few years, various groups have stood up against marginalization and discrimination in efforts to promote gender, racial, and religious equality. Some social activists and game developers have realized that video games are a great way to reach vast audiences. It’s not uncommon nowadays to find subtle or outright themes for social justice, embracing diversity, and even environmental sustainability in every-day video games.
Some creative game designers hide their messages in the base storylines, character development, and interactive functions or features. It’s a bit odd to think of gaming as a way to, for instance, heal the planet, but once you think of gaming as a means of sensitization and communication, it all makes sense.
Mobile Gaming is Growing Fast
Mobile gaming is on the rise; within just a decade, mobile gaming has grown from an insignificant commercial niche to a multi-billion dollar industry. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; mobile phone use has skyrocketed since the smartphone came into the consumer gadgets’ scene.
Smartphone manufacturers are continuously making more powerful hardware and software every year. This has made powerful pocket-sized devices very popular and affordable. To game developers, the widespread use of smartphones opens access to a whole new market segment. Today, even giant game publishers such as EA, Ubisoft, and SEGA are in on the action – remastering some of their classic and latest releases and adapting the gameplay and features to mobile platforms.
AI in Gaming
Artificial intelligence is nothing new to the gaming world. However, over the last few years, advancements in AI technology have revealed new opportunities for game developers. Some of the key areas in gaming that have benefited from AI are interactions, game difficulty settings, and gameplay personalization. Thanks to AI, gamers can interact more realistically with characters in games, especially NPCs. Players can also enjoy solo games depending on their abilities and skills and have a personalized gameplay experience based on their gaming style and in-game choices.
Like other industries that rely on the dynamics of the social-political culture and advances in technology, the gaming world keeps evolving and changing. This entertainment segment is always the first to adopt and find a use for the latest tech in digital entertainment. In a way, gaming also helps push technological advancements as gamers demand more from their consoles, PCs, smartphones, and the games themselves.