Gaming has become one of the world’s most popular hobbies, particularly among younger adults. The variety, flexibility, and interactivity offered by video games often make them superior and far more preferable to older mediums like television.
In most G7 countries, the proportion of the population that plays video games at least occasionally is near or above 50%.
This popularity has been helped by a number of exciting developments in technology that have made games more immersive, accessible, and/or enticing for players. Of all these developments, here are some of the most influential.
Massive Multiplayer Games
The internet has facilitated remote multiplayer gaming for many years, but it wasn’t always capable of offering the 10s of Mbps required by titles today. Even before online multiplayer became an option though, when connection speeds weren’t fast enough to support smooth gameplay, LAN parties were a way for gamers to compete with each other.
Towards the end of the 2000s, new console and PC games were routinely offering online multiplayer functionality. However, most servers only supported around a dozen players per lobby and titles were designed for this.
Additionally, players on an Xbox couldn’t typically compete in the same game against their friends on a PlayStation or PC.
Massive multiplayer games have changed all of this. As technology has improved, allowing more stable connections into a single lobby, developers have created titles that allow hundreds of players to compete together.
A prime example of this is Fortnite, a battle royale game that has up to 100 people competing together in a winner-takes-all showdown. As well as supporting many more people in a single battle, it also offers cross-platform play so players can join friends regardless of the device they own.
Following the success of Fortnite and PUBG, the battle royale genre has become one of the most appealing options for gamers, with titles like Call of Duty, Escape From Tarkov, and Counter-Strike now also including it as a mode.
Video streaming has changed many areas of everyday life over the last decade. The majority of people now watch movies and TV shows through a service like Netflix or Disney+. That’s not the only use for this technology though; video streaming has made at-home CCTV much more accessible, changed the way that many people work, and made it possible to learn remotely.
In gaming, video streaming has been used in a number of ways. The most obvious example is the huge communities that have sprung up on sites like Twitch, where professional gamers broadcast themselves while they play and chat with their viewers. Platforms like Steam also let players upload videos of their gaming sessions to share with the community.
Online casinos have used video streaming a little differently, incorporating it into the games themselves. Big iGaming brands like Betway have invested heavily in the creation of live casino games that have a human dealer shown through a video feed to the player. This person controls the game by spinning a physical wheel or dealing specially-designed physical playing cards for players to place bets on.
These implementations of streaming create more engaging content for gamers, allowing them to enjoy the experience more than before.
Virtual reality technology is not new. Early prototypes of VR machines were built in the early 1960s, though they were huge contraptions that you sat inside of rather than wore on your head like with today’s gadgets.
The idea was ahead of its time and needed to let the technology catch up before virtual reality could become feasible.
In the mid-1990s, Nintendo felt that the time was right to fuse virtual reality with gaming, so it created the Virtual Boy. This looked more like the VR headsets that are around today, but it lacked a few important features that ultimately led to its failure and removal from sale.
Firstly, it sat on top of a table with a stand holding it up. The player would have to lean forward to look into the device, leaving them in a position that isn’t conducive to a comfortable experience. Secondly, it had terrible monochrome graphics while the other consoles at the time were getting bigger colour palettes and 3D viewpoints.
Today, VR gaming has come on leaps and bounds, with high-definition graphics, head tracking, and even wireless connectivity for a more comfortable experience.
Companies like Sony and Valve have invested heavily in supporting VR in their ecosystems. The former has created the PSVR for its PlayStation consoles, while the latter has an extensive library of virtual reality games on its Steam platform.
While VR hasn’t yet been adopted by all gamers, it is slowly winning over players as proponents convince them of the improved experience it can offer.