That’s Entertainment! The Modern World of Gaming
One of the biggest and most successful entertainment industries in the world today is gaming. Whether you game on your PC, console or mobile phone, chances are that you are at least a casual user. There are a reported 2.3 billion gamers at present, meaning that 30% of the world’s population are interacting with this industry. In other words, it’s huge and it keeps getting bigger by the day. Since smartphones and then tablets became available to buy, we’ve seen mobile games creep up to dominate 51% of the global market, meaning that they’ve taken on the established games consoles and won. In just a few short decades, the gaming industry has become one of the biggest forms of entertainment on the planet. So, how did it get there and where is it going next?
Since the 1980s, consoles have been the big contenders in the world of gaming. Although the first computer game, Pong, was invented and popularised in 1972, it wasn’t until the game’s manufacturer, Atari, started producing at-home games consoles in 1977 that things began to get off the ground. Since then, we’ve seen consoles transform from the basic games that came with Sega and Nintendo’s early offerings into the super-intelligent and realistic releases from Sony’s Playstation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One X and the Nintendo Switch. There have been many stages of transformation along the way (does anybody remember the Dreamcast? or the Wii U?) but with each step forward the technology and gameplay is refined.
People have always been keen to access their favourite games titles on the move. This has been made possible down the years with legendary devices such as the Gameboy as well as the PSP and Playstation Vita, formulated as separate, standalone console models to own alongside your main console at home. However, the industry is changing in a major way. In 2017, Nintendo released the Switch; this is a console that can remain at home or become portable in one quick, easy step. It’s an obvious response to the needs of the user in a busy world, where it’s not always possible to carve out that gaming time in your own living room. Sometimes, it needs to be on the train, in the break room or whilst you’re waiting for the bus.
Online & PC
PC gaming harks back to classic titles such as Doom or Resident Evil 2, but since the internet became widely accessible in the late 90s it has progressed considerably. The ability to play online has opened up a whole world of opportunity, whether that’s shopping for your Sims, playing a real-time hand in the PokerStarsCasino or joining an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) such as World of Warcraft. Of course, all consoles and hand-held games are now also connected to the internet to facilitate updates, patches and coop mode, but online PC gaming still holds its own. Platforms such as Steam, Origin and GamersGate allow avid PC gamers to download the latest titles and experience just as high-tech gameplay as those with consoles.
As mentioned previously, mobile games currently make up over half the global market. With overnight sensations such as Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds and Pokémon Go attracting millions of users every month, it’s clear that this is not just a flash in the pan. Many people wouldn’t even think of leaving the house without their smartphone these days, so it makes sense that they’re looking to these multi-purpose handheld devices for their entertainment too. The scope for development is enormous; not only can developers create mobile versions of everyone’s favourite titles, but they can utilise the smartphone’s multifunctionality to improve gameplay. A handheld device equipped with camera, video, audio, mic, HD screen and already logged in to all the most popular social media accounts is a powerful tool for games developers.
Virtual reality is creeping further and further into the mainstream since the introduction of platforms such as Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and HTC Vive. The use of a headset, earphones and controllers working together gives players a truly immersive experience as they navigate the gaming arena in a whole new way. Although VR games have some catching up to do in terms of crisp and realistic graphics, they’re getting there and when they do it’ll be almost impossible to distinguish between the game and real life. Understandably this is a worrying prospect for some, although for others it is simply the next exciting step in gaming development.
Looking to the future…
We can see that gaming is coming out of the living room and into the real world with the introduction of portable hand-held consoles that don’t compromise on gameplay, and the introduction of both VR and AR (augmented reality) games. Who knows what the future holds for this rapidly advancing form of entertainment?