Recent developments in technology, social media, and consumer preferences have opened up the gaming market to reach unprecedented levels of enjoyment and involvement within the world’s gaming community. More than half the American population, 155 million people, play games regularly at 3 or more hours every week (Lofgren). While the beginnings of video gaming can be traced back to the 1950’s with Tennis for Two, a precursor to Pong, the future of video gaming appears to be dawning on a new age where video games will be pinging across pixels, platforms, and designs like never before.
The fact is that video games are becoming a serious social force in the lives of most everyone who lives in America. Video games affect 155 million people in some sort of manner and 4 out of 5 American households have a videogame console (Lofgren). The usual age of the gamer is 35 years old however most gamers began playing the games at 13 years old, a figure that can be compared to the pre-school to college school graduation circuit that also spans close to 20 years. The greatest demographic of video game players is however the Chinese crowd which has been steadily increasing their gaming revenue for years (Lofgren). In America, as of 2013, the revenue is near 22 billion dollars according to consumer reports. The gaming industry is 75% male yet there is a fairly even ratio of game play between males and females. It is found that 48% of females play games and 50% of males play as well (Lofgren). The industry statistic is reflective of the purchasing habits of males and females as 59% of the games purchases are made by males and 41% of them are female (Lofgren).
The figures concerning the players of the video games are almost as interesting as the facts about the games themselves. The first control based game was Tennis for Two, a 1950’s system developed by William Higinbothan, American physicist, which utilized oscilloscopes with a cathode ray tube for a screen (Epstein). The game, a predecessor to Pong, was manipulated by a controller with a rotating dial and buttons that were used to modify the racket swing’s angle (Epstein). Since that time, video games have improved dramatically becoming more fine and fun with infinitely more opportunities, choices, and way to play.
In 2015, the best and most earning games were Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Madden NFL 16, Fallout 4, Star Wars: Battlefront, Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2K16, Minecraft, FIFA 16, Mortal Kombat X, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Lofgren). These games were all platform game consoles such as the Play Station 4, Xbox one, and the PC, devices that permit far more entertainment possibilities than the massive computer system that Tennis for Two was built upon could deliver with highly interactive control systems and graphics.
While the past and present are enticing, the future of gaming is quite the exciting prospect with all the social and technological trends emerging video games are to capitalize upon. Social involvement is a large movement that is coming to play role in the future of gaming. Now more than ever, parents are participating with their children the games they play. One UK survey has indicated that 75% of parents now play video games with their children and also that players 10 or younger have most all their gaming recommendations coming directly from their parents (Webber and Stuart). This development is likely reflective of the fact that there are is greater choice and interest in video games which can be leveraged unilaterally leveraged by the several generations that video games appeal to. Also, there is the fact that families have started to pull back from the use of TVs scattered throughout the house in favor of a concentrated TV living room experience. Although the family has more gadgets, they are reported to be closer than they have been in years, something that game and movie designers can be thanked for given their dedicated efforts to build media that can be enjoyed by many generations (Webber and Stuart). It is not unlikely that the future of gaming will continue to build upon family cooperation in their advertising, designing, and success as an industry given the fact that the millennials, the most recent generational cohort, are already more predisposed to video-games. Furthermore, the middle-aged bracket of adults is likely to participate in games more simply because they have had a long exposure than previous generations (Webber and Stuart).
The tablet and mobile device phenomenon is also quite a powerful change in video games which may spell radical revolutions in the years to come. At this time, 34% of young people under the age of eleven have a tablet, something that has earned them the title the ‘swipe generation’ given that is the main way they transfer their data from one state to the next (Webber and Stuart). The game developers are catering to the younger generation’s needs by incorporating their material into a ‘toy to life’ genre of game, where real life toys are actually marketed, sold, and used to enhance game experience. This means that consumers may purchase an doll like figure, such as a ‘Disney Infinity’ figurine ‘Jafar’ and it will then be loaded into the console of the game as a three dimensional and playable character (Stuart & Webber).
The emergence of real world objects as platforms and upgrades for the gaming world is a real and growing presence in the world of gaming. The Internet of Things is a leading development in this respect as the Internet of Things aims to incorporate the environment into an online accessible virtual environment that is totally synced into one experience (Mahendra). Thus the promotion and integration of virtual reality technology for gaming among other strange environmental interface options can be expected in the years to come. Samsung, in cooperation with Oculus, as well as Apple and Archos have already started developing the technology with VR Gaming Gears types such as the Oculus, a head gear that connects to your mobile device and allows for 360 degree interaction with one’s environment while gaming (Mahendra). On the other side of virtual reality is motion gaming, something that is well established through the Wii, Xbox, and Playstation console systems. With the implementation of camera and/or a motion censor device, game players have literally begun syncing their bodies with a virtual world for loads of fun. This is been accomplished in many gaming domains including sports such as golf, baseball, bowling, fencing, and other types of play such as driving (Mahendra). The next level of these devices are wearable suits that provide direct sensory feedback to the game so that muscle and movement reflection is even more accurate. The ARAIG suit, for instance, shown below, has an impressive array of features including the ability to return to its wearer simulated motion from the game such as being shook by a straw bullet complete with sounds for even greater immersion (Mahendra).
The alternate control world is certainly becoming one of the most radical and relevant of video game revolutions. Many Indy developers are starting to look for ways to add ‘buttons’ into the environment which encourage the player to run around their environment in particular sequences in order to accomplished certain tasks (Webber & Stuart). There is actually the Alt Ctrl Game Jam which is happening in September to commemorate and build upon the use of alternate controllers in video games from developers large and small. The only aim of the festival is to destroy the standard boundaries of the controller in favor of more creative and ingenious methods of play (AltCtrlGameJame). A part of what has made such technologies more available is the falling price of electronic equipment and thus the ease of novel developers to create alternate systems.
Another key area of development is social media game creation stories. The dynamics of the social networks, both online and over the phone, permit a new level of streaming and sharing to be realized. The Moshi Monster and Club Penguin are two such creations that have consumers collaboratively playing in social media such as Twitter, something that has made them easily shared and used (Webber and Stuart). Along the same lines is the phenomenon of game spectating, a sort of cinema enjoyment experience where elite or funny players get watched on YouTube or Twitch to the tune of several thousand viewers (Webber and Stuart). On one twitch channel, a subscriber ‘SodaPoppin’ previews the Beta of a new World of Warcraft expansion with a subscription value of $4.99, a cost nearly 25,000 people have paid, in order to comment and participate, remotely, from the bleachers (Legion Patch). The attraction of such venues is somewhat a mystery however they are clearly growing in popularity and have already started influencing game designers in their creating.
A far greater emphasis on player communities is in fact one of the most significant trends to come in game preview and design. Having transparent game projects with detailed showings before release are set to encourage collaboration between the gamers and the game makers (Webber and Stuart). In the Indy game genre, this trend has reached so far as to instate the most active community contributors, either by testing or financial contribution, to directly participate in the game’s creation either as voice actors, plot developers, or even music artists (Webber and Stuart).
Among these trends, there are several other key areas of development which are poised to revolutionize gaming. One of these is facial recognition, a feature whereby the game will be able to transfer expressions and ques from the face into a simulator that will be used to guide and enhance game play (Peters). With facial recognition there will also be voice recognition, something that will allow seamless command of the console for turning on, off, or whatever other function is necessary (Peters). Gestures as well will give players the ability to cooperate in untold and interesting ways that will directly tie into real world movements (Peters). Also, one of the technological advances that has not yet been discussed are High-Def displays, a force that has been grown so powerful that ‘Ultra 4K’ gaming has commenced. Ultra 4K gaming refers to games that are played on televisions with 4,000 pixels, a rate almost more than four times that of traditional hi-definition at 1080p (Peters). These devices will vastly enhance the other dimensions of increased game play as almost all video game’s playability and pleasure is derived from the consistency, color, and definition of the images it works with.
Video Games are amazing creations that have only been realized in the past half hundred years or so since Tennis for Two came out in the 1950s. Since then, developers and players have taken the playability of games to levels it is safe to say were only imaginable in dreams as of 25 years ago. The future directions of game play are likely equally impressive in their splendor and skill. Virtual reality, high definition, collaboration with players, spectator games, and alternate controllers are just a few of the advances that can be expected in next immediate future.
AltCtrlGameJam. Alt Ctrl Game is Jam., AltCtrlGameJam, 2016. Web. July 20, 2016 http://altctrlgamejam.com.
Epstein, Eli. Tech Time Machine. Mashable, 2015. Web. July 20, 2016. http://mashable.com/2015/01/08/gaming-tech-ces/#i2aqatoeskqD.
Lofgren, Krista. 2016 Video Game Statistics. Big Fish Games.com, 2016. Web. July 20, 2016. http://www.bigfishgames.com/blog/2016-video-game-statistics-and-trends/.
Mahendra, Amish. How Internet of Things Revolutionize Gaming Industry. IOT Worm, 2015. Web. July 20, 2016. http://iotworm.com/internet-of-things-changes-gaming-industry/.
Peters, Brandt. 11 Unbelievable Advances in Gaming Technology Mental Floss, 2015. Web. July 20, 2016. http://mentalfloss.com/article/61764/11-unbelievable-advances-gaming-technology
Sodapopping. Legion Patch PogChamp? Twitch, 2016. Web. July 19, 2016.
Webber, Jordan Erica, & Stuart, Keith. 16 Trends that will define the future of video games. The Guardian, 2015. July 20, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/23/16-trends-that-will-change-the-games-industry.
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