Computer games have been entertaining humans for decades. The very earliest rudimentary electronic game was invented in 1947, inspired by the technology behind radar displays in World War Two, although it never went into production. Several other electronic game machines followed, including mathematical strategy game Nim, tic-tac-toe game Oxo and Tennis for Two. However, the 1962 launch of “Spacewar! is considered by many to have been the first official computer game, as one of the earliest examples of a digital arcade game.
Since Spacewar! there have been unprecedented advances in video game technology. Computer Space, loosely based on the earlier Spacewar! game, is credited with being the first coin-operated arcade game. It was closely followed by the release of the now classic Pong game by Atari, which would appear in multiple establishments and helped launch the concept of the video arcade. As home computers began to appear and become more commonplace throughout the 1970s and 1980s, computer gaming began to take off.
The iconic Pac-Man game celebrated its 40th birthday in 2020. Originally released in 1980, Pac-Man has been a popular arcade-style game for four decades and is still going strong. At the time of its release, Pac-Man revolutionised the gaming industry and ushered in a new era of gamers. Prior to the release of Pac-Man, video arcades were venues typically dominated by men, attracted to the selection of mostly violet, aggressive game genres on offer. Pac-Man, with its bright colours, quirky graphics and lack of weaponry, changed the dialogue surrounding video games and made the arcade a more inclusive environment. For the first time, women and children were made to feel welcome as they flocked to control the cheeky yellow character.
Pac-Man has endured the decades and many of today’s young gamers still enjoy chasing ghosts with the pizza-inspired character. Gaming innovations, however, have occurred thick and fast since the initial launch, with many modern games and gaming platforms advanced to a point that 1980’s software developers could bever have imagined.
Mobile gaming is a relatively new phenomenon that has captured the imagination of a generation. Today, games are one of the most downloaded app genres for smartphones and mobile gaming revenue is overtaking console and PC gaming. Advances in technology mean the people of today can access almost any type of game directly from their smartphone. People can play to win real casino money on their morning commute, entertain themselves while waiting for a take-away coffee with a match-three puzzle game, or connect with friends in complex strategy games, all from their mobile devices.
The convenience of mobile gaming has helped more people to discover the joy of playing video games. Being able to access any type of game from anywhere at any time, with many available to play for free, has helped inculcate gaming into societal norms. No longer are video games the sole premise of teenage boys holed up in their bedrooms – 33% of all app downloads across the board are now video games.
Xbox revolutionised gaming by bringing together the concept of the console with online gaming. Although this had been done before, Xbox took things to the next level and created a series of consoles that would rank amongst the most popular from the release of the Xbox One to today’s Xbox Series S and Series X. Now with the launch of the Xbox Game Pass, which includes smart delivery for games, consumers can access a Netflix-style subscription option for gaming on demand.
Xbox Velocity Architecture showcased within the Xbox Series X/S offers unparalleled load times, intense visuals, next-generation GPU and framerates as high as 120FPS. Manufacturers are creating not only new and original games for the Xbox Series X/S, but also new versions of classic favourites, optimised to take advantage of the stunning visuals, audio and other features of the new and improved technology.
Blockchain is one of the most disruptive technologies to emerge over the past few years. Initially developed for cryptocurrency networks, blockchain now underpins many online gaming experiences requiring the input of sensitive data, such as pay-to-play games requiring the customer to enter payment details, or gambling websites where regular deposits and withdrawals are being made. Implementing blockchain results in secure and trusted systems that people can feel safe using. Blockchain can help gamers to buy and sell in-game assets securely and help prevent fraudulent transactions.
Cloud-based gaming is another relatively recent innovation that is beginning to change the way video games are produced, marketed, sold and played. Cloud-based gaming allows games to be streamed directly across the internet, as easily as watching a television show online. Many of the giants of the video game manufacturing sector have begun testing technologies that could revolutionise the gaming industry forever, and some have already launched cloud-based game streaming services. Google Stadia launched in November 2019 and competes with PlayStation Now from Sony, Luna from Amazon, GeForce Now from Nvidia and Microsoft’s cloud gaming services.
Virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, convergent technologies – the global gaming experience is on the cusp of more innovation and advances as software and hardware developers introduce new and better technologies. These advances, combined with amplified interest and a new level of acceptability for gaming as a hobby across all walks of life, means a global industry already valued at $159 billion in 2020 could be set to achieve record growth in the very near future.