Video gaming has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1960s. Evolving tastes of gamers and advancements in technology have changed the types of titles we play and the devices we play them on. These factors have also influenced the way games look and feel, evolving from black and white blocks to full-colour 4K masterpieces that can often be confused with real life.
But this progress will not stop or even slow down. The developers at gaming companies are continually working on new hardware to deliver a better experience and new software to push those devices to their absolute limits.
So with this in mind, what can we expect from gaming in the future?
From Spacewar! to Among Us
To look forward, it can sometimes help to look backward first to gain an understanding of what developments have already taken place.
The first title ever created was a multiplayer game called Spacewar! that was played on a machine called the PDP-1. The two players shared a keyboard and had to control their own spaceship, trying to destroy their opponent’s by firing missiles at it. It was much smarter than you’d imagine too, the game featured a “gravity well” in the center that changed the handling characteristics. There were even Spacewar! tournaments that were an early example of esports competitions, though they weren’t played online since the internet didn’t exist yet.
Today, one of the most popular space-themed games is Among Us. While its graphics aren’t cutting-edge, they are infinitely more advanced than what was offered by Spacewar!. Its multiplayer functionality is internet-based with as many as 15 players taking part to weed out an impostor that’s living among them in their spaceship. It too has esports tournaments, which are also run online across many different devices.
So games have become complex with improved visuals and better multiplayer functionality, but what’s in store for us next?
A current trend in gaming is for developers to diversify their content to broaden its appeal. In the early versions of Call of Duty, players had two modes – single-player and multiplayer. The latter came with several game types, such as deathmatch and search and destroy, but they were all played on the same maps and had very similar rules and mechanics.
Today, Call of Duty: Mobile and Warzone still have many of the same multiplayer game types as seen in older versions, but these are accompanied by other modes like “zombies” and battle royale. On top of that, weapon and character customizations are more in-depth giving players much more choice.
We’ve seen the same happen in card games. While poker began with just a couple of variants in different countries, it has ballooned to have hundreds of different options for players to choose from. While most players are probably familiar with Texas hold’em, there are various stud games, several versions of Omaha, and even H.O.R.S.E. that they can try as well.
This variety in all types of games means that they can attract more types of players, as each mode and variant has unique characteristics that appeal to different tastes. We’re likely to see even more diversification in the coming years as gaming companies seek to reach as many customers as possible.
For decades, there has been a great debate between gamers over which device was best. PC gamers would argue that their machines were customizable and upgradeable, giving them the ability to enjoy titles with the best possible graphics and frame rates, while console owners would contest that their devices were cheaper, easier, and had a better range of games.
In reality, there has always been little between them, except for the exclusive content that is only available for a single platform.
However, even when a title is available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, players on one platform haven’t typically been able to enjoy multiplayer gaming with their friends on others. Instead, they’ve been confined to their PC or PlayStation silo while their Xbox-owning buddies pwn n00bs on their own.
Cross-platform gaming was once a pipe dream, but it is slowly becoming a reality. More and more titles are finally having this option enabled, allowing PlayStation and Xbox players to compete together on the same server.
With this and the creation of streaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming, which let subscribers pause a game on their console and then carry on from their smartphone or PC, we can expect a future in which gaming is freed from the restrictions of platforms.