Playing a game used to refer to playing some cards, a board game, or a pen-and-paper RPG, but over the last few decades, new technologies have completely changed what the term ‘gaming’ means to the masses.
Now, it’s well-established that gaming means playing digital games, through computers, dedicated consoles, or mobile devices, such as smartphones. With the pastime established as being tech-driven, developers and producers have been able to invest in outside technological niches and infuse them into the gaming industry.
Here, we’re exploring some of the key technologies which are becoming more and more utilized around the world, as well as how they’re being deployed in the gaming space to enhance the various forms of popular gaming.
Changing your reality to that of the game’s world
A video from Mashable to explain how augmented reality technology works.
Gaming is, essentially, a form of escapism – as are most entertainment mediums – with the aim of a game being to encapsulate the player in the world and have them feel immersed in the story and setting. Augmented reality (AR) helps to blur the lines between the real world and the gaming world, and is being used increasingly since its infusion into one of the biggest games franchises in the world.
While many peoples’ first experience with AR will have been through their smartphones, the history of AR started way back in 1957, with cinematographer Morton Heilig’s ‘Sensorama.’ The device wasn’t computer-controlled, but it augmented the user’s reality through visuals, sounds, vibrations, and scents.
Many steps followed to explore the world of virtual reality, including computer scientist Ivan Sutherland’s 1968 head-mounted display. Still, it wasn’t until 1992 that Louis Rosenberg created the first functional AR system. His invention, ‘Virtual Fixtures,’ presented an overlay of sensory information to compensate for the relative lack of computer processing power in the 1990s.
Now, AR has become an incredibly useful tool for offering simulations and more immersive experiences. NASA, for example, deploys AR simulations to help people get a hands-on experience of what they’ll encounter and need to replicate on space stations and spacecrafts. Now, gaming has run wild with AR technology, transforming the real world into a gaming space.
The biggest name on the AR gaming scene, and the one which captured imaginations and headlines alike, is Pokémon Go. The world-famous game franchise created a mobile app through which players use satellite navigation connections to find Pokémon in the real world. Using its AR+ mode and AR mode, Pokémon Go players turn their smartphone cameras on and then survey the area to find the Pokémon in the real-world before trying to catch them in-game.
Blending the real world with the game world of Pokémon was an innovative move that has since been replicated by leading entertainment brands like Jurassic World and Harry Potter. It’s even come to the point where Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that it’s time to get Pokémon Go in the electric cars.
Talking to ever-learning computers
A video from Google to explain the complexities of voice recognition software and how it allows us to talk with computers.
Voice-recognition artificial intelligence devices are still fairly niche products but are undoubtedly becoming more commonplace in homes. Devices like Alexa are improving with each new update, while the likes of Siri have offered voice-activated AI help through iPhones since 2011. However, voice-recognition technology tracks way back to the 1950s, with Bell Laboratories’ 1952 invention “Audrey” being capable of recognizing one voice’s input of numbers. In 1962, the Shoebox Machine proved to be able to understand 16 words of English.
Now, software like Siri and Alexa use a complicated program that combines acoustic modeling and language modeling not just to hear and register spoken words, but also to understand and react to the verbal commands. The same was also true of the Xbox’s former console add-on, the Kinect. Scrapped from the Xbox Series X launch having failed to impress in previous console generations, the Kinect did allow for some impressive new actions to be made in certain games.
Forgetting the camera-and-voice-centric games created specifically for use with the Kinect, it was Mass Effect 3, which perhaps used the Kinect in the way that appeased gamers the most. Its “Better with Kinect” feature on the Xbox 360 allowed users to speak commands to instruct team members, switch weapons, and activate abilities. Some of those commands included “Salvage” to attain materials from an object, “Follow Me” to get teammates to converge, and “First Aid” to quickly heal in the heat of battle.
The use of randomisation to create unpredictable results
A video from Curious Thought to explain how a programmed computer can create random results despite it being programmed.
A lot of the fun in many video games comes from randomization. Randomly generated worlds, random actions of NPCs, and randomly generated results all help to keep an experience entertaining and often fair for all. The idea of a computer being programmed to produce completely random results seems nonsensical, as someone must instruct a method of doing so, but since John von Neumann’s PRNG of 1946, the system has come a long way to produce true randomized results.
As detailed above, there are many ways in which the randomization of occurrences can enhance a game. Still, as far as the adoption of random number generators (RNG) goes, it’s the online casino sector that has fully embraced the use of the technology. As casino games are entirely luck-based through physics, online casino games had to develop the most pristine versions of RNGs to allow for a wholly luck-based gaming experience online.
The prime example of the use of the RNG in a game to offer the same experience online as in-house is that of roulette. There are a lot of platforms online like, for example, roulette 888 that utilise the system, with all of the games, from European Roulette to Super Stake Roulette, being governed by an RNG. The software allows for each player on each spin to witness a completely random result on the virtual wheel whenever they play. It’s not just in roulette, though, it’s in all digital online casino games, with the RNG making every draw of a card or spin of the reels random and thus, fair for all players. In roulette, the complete randomization of results mimics that of physical roulette tables to offer a realistic experience. As casino gaming is centered on betting on the results of a randomised game, the RNG has become a vital addition to online game developers.
Augmented reality, voice recognition programming, and random number generators may be relatively niche in the wide world, but in gaming, each has been embraced for its ability to create a better experience. On the horizon, we have the widespread implementation of 5G internet to look forward to, with its absurd amount of power opening gaming up to new technologies based on the networks which we may not even be able to fathom at this time.