We’ve come a long way in the gaming stakes in the last few decades.
Gone are days when two vertical sticks rebounding a square ‘ball’ back and forth was the height of computer-based fun. Now, we expect to be transported to a world of stunning graphics, enthralling narrative structures and interactive gameplay.
In recent times, we’ve been part of the game too, with the Wii, followed by the Playstation Move, followed by the Xbox Kinect, all making us as much of the action as the on-screen avatars are. But what is the next step? What will be the future of gaming and what is the next invention that will well and truly blow our minds?
It seems that virtual reality is the logical progression. The publicity and excitement following the development of the Oculus Rift virtual reality system has changed the old nineties version of VR into a more enticing, realistic platform than what we remember from when we were kids.
Using positional tracking technology, the game moves where your head moves, eliminating the confusing experience we remember from VR stalls at town fairs or seaside arcades. No more blurring and nausea. No more accidentally punching your friend in the face when trying to move around.
Despite not going on commercial sale yet, the Oculus Rift has already picked up attention from major gaming companies and even Facebook suggesting the technology will also have a prominent use outside of the console-based universe. In fact, Sony is now working on its own VR system that is specially designed for its Playstation 4. Sources suggest the technology would work in harmony with PS4’s add-on camera to make head-tracking possible.
Imagine being in the safety of your front room but being able to walk around as if you were in the middle of New York, Hong Kong or Slough. Okay, maybe not the last one…
How close is it?
The experience can be rather disorientating, so in addition to purchasing the new technology, it might also be wise to invest in a couple of support rails to hold onto while playing. Maybe the future of gaming doesn’t lie in the consoles or gaming themselves; perhaps it’s more how we protect ourselves from injury as new creations hit the market. It seems the creators of Virtuix Omni are one step ahead, (excuse the pun), with their “natural motion interface”.
If you can’t wait for those, you can get a slice of VR action off the highstreet with the Carl Zeiss cinemizer OLEDs going for a cool £579.99. While the development of super responsive, crazy realistic VR is certainly exciting, it might be a while yet until console games catch up with possibilities available to virtual reality tech. But you can’t deny that the prospect is pretty cool. So let’s look a little closer shall we? What will change in the coming months that will alter the way we see gaming and how we use our consoles?
No more consoles?
Perhaps the next step is to remove the need for consoles altogether. While that’s not to say we will no longer the see the Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo gaming systems, it is likely that with the increasing power and capabilities of television connectivity and the internet, there will no longer be a necessity for the bulky box-like shapes located under the telly. Of course, with fewer and fewer people buying physical copies of disks and favouring the ease and efficiency of downloads, this might not be too far off.
The popularity of gaming isn’t set to wane anytime soon, but the way we play and how we share could soon be the biggest change. Consoles and games developers are becoming more and more aware of how much we share our day-to-day activities through social media platforms.
Modern consoles have already started to integrate this kind of communication with in their latest developments spawning a whole new social media platform in the shape of Twitch.tv which streams gameplay, but this could be even more prevalent in the coming years.
Expect to see Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines filled with screenshots of gameplay, details of a new top score and data showing how many virtual kills have been achieved during a couple of hours. While headsets are a popular choice for communication during games, the use of Skype and other voice calling platforms could soon enable the faces of other gamers to be integrated into a small on-screen window.
There could also be more emphasis on creating movement and voice-controlled consoles. With the voice-activated controls in the latest Xbox and PlayStation releases, maybe it will end up being the controller rather than the console that becomes a thing of the past?
This perhaps seems unlikely, as a number of quality games are much more easily controlled through the use of a handheld controller than by waving your arms around like a madman. However, the options available to us as gamers will be much wider than we have ever dreamed of and the way we play could even include a variety of elements. For example, some levels might require movement; others might call for vigorous button bashing.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be a brave new world for gamers in the future. Are you going to embrace the change?