As an industry, gaming has grown exponentially over the past few years. With close to 3.5 billion people in the world now playing games on a regular basis, the industry is all set to generate revenues of up to $197 billion by the end of 2023.
The development of gaming to date and its ongoing evolution run in parallel with technological advancement – the gaming industry has always been poised at the forefront of innovation. With each new generation of video games – and gaming hardware – outdoing the last in terms of performance and cutting-edge features, today’s video games are highly immersive experiences.
As each year passes, brand-new technologies enter the market that set the trend for game development. We’ve already seen this in play throughout 2023 with an increased focus on NFT games, the arrival of the metaverse and, of course, the ongoing expansion and development in mobile gaming.
While it’s true that new tech presents an exciting opportunity for the gaming industry to go through another stage of evolution, there are certainly unsung heroes of gaming tech that are often seen as an afterthought. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the most impactful technologies without which the gaming industry as it is today wouldn’t exist.
The games you enjoy playing now are all created in a game engine. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that modern video games are incredibly complex, with numerous algorithms and details that work together in harmony to create an immersive gaming environment. Without game engines, there would be no way to contain all these elements, let alone deliver them in playable form.
Think of game engines as frameworks for video game development. Everything that’s involved in making a game, from developing graphics to how it then responds to gamer actions, happens within it. In the early days of gaming, titles were released with their own rendering engines. Today, however, most games are developed in commercial engines such as:
- Creation Engine
- Unreal Engine
While today’s video games feature impressive visuals, compelling storylines and exciting gameplay, they wouldn’t have the same impact without the right music, sound effects, ambience and voice-acting. Audio is such an important part of the modern video gaming experience that video game soundtracks have now become a stand-alone genre in their own right. Some of the world’s best musicians, composers and orchestras have recorded video game soundtracks. Meanwhile, A-list actors such as Keanu Reeves and Kevin Spacey have lent their voices to games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Call of Duty
Much like game engines, audio engines also play a fundamental role in ensuring that gamers actually have games to play, not just strings of coding and random sound effects. Due to video games needing several layers of audio, an audio engine provides the perfect environment to simplify such complex processes. Furthermore, audio engines enable developers to create hyper-realistic audio, which makes the gaming experience as immersive as possible.
Some of the leading audio engines in use are:
- Miles Sound System
Random Number Generators
When it comes to playing video games, there’s nothing more likely to ruin your experience than ending up with the same outcomes each time you play. Have you ever wondered what prevents you from having those ‘Groundhog Day’ moments when you return to your favourite game, time and time again? That’ll be down to RNGs, AKA Random Number Generators.
From making online slot games totally random – and ensuring they adhere to limits in the process – to randomising the loot you’ll find when scavenging in a survival game, RNGs are responsible for it all.
So, what exactly is an RNG? It’s a software algorithm which is integrated into a game during development. Developers can, of course, programme RNGs to seamlessly integrate into a massive range of gaming experiences, but the purpose is the same: to ensure randomised outcomes.
RNGs are particularly important in online slots and any game categorised in the iGaming genre. Many an operator’s license rests on whether or not it has a provably fair random number generator powering its platform. However, you’ll also see games like Genshin Impact and Pokémon making great use of RNGs to enhance a player’s experience.
The development of virtual reality (VR) systems has transformed the gaming industry in the last several years. VR allows players to be immersed in a world they otherwise would not be able to experience and is becoming more widespread with mainstream releases of consoles such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One that now offer support for it.
VR provides an entirely new way for gamers to interact with their environment, making them feel as though they are actually inside a video game, allowing them to explore stunningly realistic landscapes and make different choices than what is available with traditional gaming. It also brings a sense of visual depth when looking around or behind objects that is distinct from other media forms.
In addition, the introduction of motion-tracking feature gives visuals an entirely new level of presence which can enhance immersion when playing certain genres of games. Using these systems, games can now track user movement so the characters on-screen will react depending on how gamers are interacting with the environment or elements within it.
Finally, voice control allows users to direct their character’s actions through verbal commands without having to use a controller; while haptics give feedback through vibrations in controllers or peripherals like gloves so players can feel every action happening on-screen in real time. This creates a more intense experience by adding another layer of realism and interactions which were not possible before.