Nov. 26, 2021
Technological games: from the beginning to where we are now
8 min read
Video games and tech are closely intertwined. Because of this, there is a lot of behind-the-curtain work happening at all times.
People love video games and the gaming industry for their graphics, adventures, and as an endless source of entertainment. Gaming has become an immersive journey that has changed the way people enjoy stories (and even just have fun).
Professional gaming is also at a crescent rate, meaning that technology can help with a new type of entertainment — esports. Games like that have a competitive, cliffhanger scene. Will competitions using virtual reality be next? History seems to confirm that yes.
However, the less exciting side of the video game industry is all the developments that take place behind the scenes, long before fans can gush about a game’s surface features.
Video games and technology
Video games and tech are closely intertwined. Because of this, there is a lot of behind-the-curtain work happening at all times. That even includes times when you’re just playing a game on your computer.
Game developers put in hundreds of hours of work just to get a video game to launch on your computer, and we are not even speaking about preparing and adequately applying the graphical designs onto the models and making everything interact properly. Hundreds of complex technologies are combined to create digital entertainment that fans adore, and having them all work in synergy makes video games all the more attractive.
...And all the more complicated.
History of Gaming Technology
The video game industry has a rich history: it went from allowing a few friends to play games together to producing the augmented reality juggernauts we have now. Games themselves have evolved and adapted to get a massive public reach. At first, people were astonished at the idea of controlling something inside a TV set; now, technology has already conquered the Internet (take cloud saving, for instance), with hand-made tools developed specifically for games. Advances such as voice recognition and gesture control are being incorporated into video game technology, and everything seems feasible. With much space left for consoles and PC hardware to evolve, we can only wonder where games will take us next.
The advent of the video game industry
As early as the 1950s, computer scientists started creating simple games like tic-tac-toe on their complex computational systems. Over time, the little games they made for fun started to grow more complex, culminating in one of the most famous early games: Tennis for Two. Though it was just a simple back and forth, Pong-like game, it was the beginning of the video game revolution. However, the game often recognized as the first official game (likely because it had a bit more action) was Spacewar!. Made in 1961, people played the game on the PDP-1 mainframe computer. Spacewar! simulated space flights and shooting down enemies and even prompted the first-ever video game tournament.
Video games moved from labs to basements, from gaming systems to arcade halls. The next step was to put video games all in one console. Creators gave people one big machine to play endless hours of Pac-Man, another for Space Invaders, and then on.
It wasn’t until 1972, with the Nintendo Odyssey series console, that games went from one system per game to a console that would let players enjoy multiple games. Rounding them up this way and divorcing systems from built-in games helped begin streamlining gaming.
From there evolved the Atari, the GameCube, the Xbox, the PlayStation, the Switch. Games went from cartridges to CDs to completely digitized downloadables. For every step computer and electronic technology took, so did gaming, and that’s how we got to the beloved video game world that exists today.
The wide world of gaming tech
Now that you’ve seen where gaming began, let’s talk about the top pieces of technology that make modern gaming what it is — and where they can take games to.
As the source from which where video games have sprung, computer technology helps create games, play games, and everything in between. With the boom in building one’s own system, gamers have now been able to put together their PCs piece by piece, picking every part meticulously to create the perfect computer of their dreams.
These systems have made the gaming industry what it is today, and any tech-savvy gamer knows their way around a computer. Video games simply wouldn’t be what they are without these excellent computational devices made for data, not fun.
Computer science has come a long way since then. The developers now integrate much more knowledge about different languages and purposes, and playing games is one of them. If we take a look at how quickly everything advanced and became popular, we won’t be wrong to predict the appearance of more and more gadgets. For instance, many games are already available in VR (virtual reality) modes, and despite this kind of advancements still being a bit far away from the general market, there are many users and gamers already having fun with those technologies.
Video game consoles
Having entered the gaming sphere only 20 years after computers, gaming consoles were how video games got into the homes of millions. Helping children fall in love with gaming was one of the best business deals in the world. Now, the console is directly responsible for thousands of young gamers becoming industry innovators.
Regardless of where you stand on console wars or the console vs. PC debate, gaming wouldn’t be the same without kids playing Harvest Moon on the GameCube or Pokémon on their Game Boy. Having that experience changed their lives for the better.
And same as computers, video game consoles also made a lot of headway in terms of technology. Motion sensing, better graphics, immersive sound, different ways of playing… The video game world takes a lot from each advance.
At first, video games were just dots and lines on a screen, but eventually, someone realized how vibrant a game could really be. It all started with simple graphic designs — the kind of thing that devs could fit in a few pixels.
However, the medium has evolved so much that motion capture is changing the game. Developers and studios are hiring real-life award-winning actors to make their games more life-like and gut-wrenching, and oh-so-good.
Virtual reality also helps in the development of these immersive graphics. Games benefit a lot from original, interesting, and advanced imagery.
In general, developers and scientists have so far enhanced every little piece of gaming machines to make the experience better. Devs deliberately program some games to run smoother so players can enjoy them online. Different devices are made specifically for a certain gaming experience. Programmers have gotten better at coding to create more complex game mechanics. Innovators make programming engines to help simplify game creation.
The gaming world is fascinating and technological and, for lack of a better word, game-changing.
Moreover, some of the industry’s innovations have contributed to advances in medical, automotive, and other fields, too. For example, Volvo is using gaming tech to test automotive designs and make their cars safer. See also esport technology.
The reach of the gaming industry
While the tech in gaming is impressive, it wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far without the sales and marketing efforts made by the business people of the video game world. As a result, the gaming market has slowly become a place of outstanding trailers, fabulously wealthy investors, and the grandeur expected from a much less “nerdy” industry.
Video game media, and the gamers who love them, aren’t just being tricked by some business scheme, though. With tech and marketing working together, the gaming world becomes ever-better, allowing many games to be more impressive than anyone could imagine.
Video games are advancing every day, and one of the best places to see that process in action is video game conferences. Now, many of them are focused on pleasing fans and showcasing new games, but there is a handful of them that focuses more on industry professionals and the technologies they create.
Participating in a tech conference can help you meet professionals from the video game industry and get to know the recent tendencies not only in video games, but in all things technology: augmented reality, virtual reality, facial recognition, gesture control, and much more. The gaming industry as a whole heavily benefits from technological advances, which means those tweaks will also become available to games.
Some examples include Unite, GamesCon, GameDaily Connect USA, and most famously, the GDC.
The future of gaming technology
While video game tech is already impressive, there is so much more to look forward to in the future.
One advance that’s already starting to change things is the possibility to put complex games on smartphones. Mobile gaming has shot up in popularity and has done more for normalizing the activity than traditional gaming has been able to do. Developers have even started adapting beloved classics like Skyrim, PUBG, and LoL: Wild Rift to mobile systems. That proves how efficient modern phones are and how inventive programmers are in making games more accessible. Not everyone has an XBOX or a customized gaming PC, after all.
Virtual reality is also a new video gaming market, where players can actually feel themselves inside the games they love. Of course, the technology still needs tweaking and further updates, but augmented reality could be the future of the medium, taking immersion to a whole new level.
Also, it’s important to mention that things like facial recognition and voice recognition may become integrated into the games of the future, either as a way to personalize experiences or to create even more realistic game interactions.
Be it mobile gaming, real-life gadgets, augmented reality, or classic gaming consoles, technology is at your disposal for enhancing the video game experience. However, it’s difficult to predict what the next step will be, or which kind of device will encompass those next features.