Long before we’ve had elaborate simulations of the real world – or countless fantasy worlds – to explore, video games were a huge success already. But long before the hungry yellow dot and the mushroom-eating plumber video games were already existing. The first video game was built by William Higinbotham, a nuclear physicist using an analog computer and an oscilloscope screen. Tennis for Two, as the game was called, was a huge success, and a forerunner of a multi-billion dollar industry.
The first video games were just moving dots on a monochrome screen. But then technology has started evolving at an unprecedented pace, giving birth to smaller and better computers, higher definition screens and dedicated hardware. Software was keeping up with the development of hardware. From the first video games with pixelated graphics and 8-bit music we’ve now reached a stage where games are sometimes indistinguishable from reality, at least when it comes to their looks.
Just as science, gaming seems to evolve in hops. First it was the release of the commercial video games that fueled the first jump, giving birth to an incredible variety of arcade titles. Later the console was invented, taking video games into our homes. The development of the PC was another milestone, followed by the introduction of 3dfx Voodoo Graphics, the first 3D accelerator card of history. From there on, the story is well known: games have become more and more sophisticated and visually appealing.
The next evolutionary jump in the world of gaming, spawning a new branch of the industry, was the introduction of the iPhone. Its huge screen and powerful hardware – at least for those times, 8 years ago – has fueled an unprecedented rise in mobile gaming. Today people are using their smartphones to play everything from europalace.com casino games to MMOs and racing games on the go, with graphics to match those offered by desktop computers and dedicated consoles.
All signs point to an imminent evolutionary jump in the world of gaming. Games have reached their pinnacle when it comes to graphics. I’ve played the latest Call of Duty, Far Cry and other similar titles, and I must say that they are becoming increasingly similar to interactive movies. But their level of immersion is low, as players still have to use controllers or keyboards and mice to play them.
I expect the next step in the evolution of video games will be full immersion, which will make use of the emerging virtual reality technologies. People will be able to step into a parallel reality, where they will be able to interact with their environment in novel ways. And that will be a true evolutionary jump, which I expect to see in the next few years.