In the gaming industry, new technology reigns supreme. Gaming companies have been racing for decades to create more powerful gaming machines to compete in the fastest growing sector of entertainment. These advancements regularly redefine what a video game can be, and how they’re played.
Comparisons of the tech of today with what we had just a decade or two ago are like night and day, and we can look forward to that continued growth. Let’s take a look at 8 surprising ways technology has already changed how we game.
- Artificial Intelligence
When you don’t have a gaming partner available, playing against the computer is the next best thing. In the past, this often made for a watered-down or downright frustrating experience. Today, advancements in AI allow the computer to make more intelligent decisions, resulting in gameplay that’s challenging in all the right ways.
Modern AI and machine learning have made it possible for computer-controlled players to better make key strategic decisions, or even mimic the behavior of human players. Today, you might find computer-controlled enemies planning four moves ahead, throw grenades into your bunker, or perform other ‘smart’ maneuvers that weren’t possible on older games and consoles.
- Graphics & Worlds
The most apparent sign of innovation in the gaming industry is the graphics. You can clearly tell what era a game is from based on how it looks. From the pixelated, 8-bit graphics of yesteryear to today’s stunning, photo-realistic 4K open worlds, the gaming community is always excited when new games pack a visual punch.
While today’s graphics are often breathtaking, we haven’t peaked yet by any means. There was a time when gamers would not have imagined better graphics than Donkey Kong Country for SNES and then Super Mario 64 came out on the N64 and revolutionized the industry with its open 3D world and 64-bit graphics. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the past it’s that the future is bright when it comes to gaming graphics.
- Online Multiplayer Capabilities
Back in the day, if you didn’t have a friend or sibling around, you were stuck playing games by yourself. Sure, gaming alone can be a rewarding experience in its own way, but sometimes you just want to cut loose and get competitive with like-minded people.
Today’s online gaming communities have made it possible to connect with fellow gamers all across the globe. You can form meaningful friendships and lasting alliances, or at least spend a few minutes wreaking havoc on unsuspecting players whenever the mood strikes. Nowadays, you can battle legions of people simultaneously and explore entire universes filled with real people.
- Portable Gaming
These days, handheld consoles have better specs and features than the expensive consoles of years gone by. In 1996, if someone told you that in the future you would be able to play N64 games on the bus ride to school or work, you might have rolled your eyes. Today, the dream is real. Naturally, we can only assume that handheld gaming consoles are only going to get better and better.
The mobile gaming industry has also grown by leaps and bounds. In the past, video games on cell phones were often just designed to waste time and nobody really took them seriously. Today, there are communities of people who love discovering and mastering new mobile games. Being able to carry a library of games — many that are free or extremely cheap — is a huge leap forward for passionate gamers.
- More Options
You could play video games all day every day and never scratch the surface of what’s out there. Back in the day, there were just a few consoles to choose from and a handful of games to play on them. Today, there are thousands of games available on computers, emulators, smartphones, and, of course, consoles.
Modern platforms like Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, and Origin make it easy to build a digital library of games with no discs or cartridges required.
It’s no secret that the gaming industry has grown significantly over the years. Today, there is a huge market for gaming accessories, especially custom ones. From esport teams to individuals seeking a more immersive gaming experience, people love using custom gaming gear.
In the past, gamers were limited to the same grey or black consoles and controllers. Sure, they could take a sharpie to their gear if they were feeling inspired, but the options were severely limited.
Today, manufacturing and design technology allows companies to produce custom gaming controllers, consoles, and other products in a variety of colors and designs.
- Better Controllers
Gaming controllers have evolved a great deal over the years. Today’s controllers allow gamers to really reach their full potential. Modern gaming controllers can be customized to your exact preferences, allowing you to really hone in on your unique gameplay style for each individual game.
Modern controllers are also much more responsive, allowing you to perform those split-second maneuvers that can make or break your performance. Some of them — the Wii remote for example — even incorporate controllers into the game itself. Others like the Switch can be used for portable gaming consoles.The modern gaming controller isn’t limited to a few buttons and a joystick, that’s for sure.
- Realistic Soundtracks
While the bleeps and bloops of yesteryear’s games certainly holds some nostalgic charm, there’s something truly magical about playing a game with a gorgeous soundtrack that uses real instruments. Today, music producers can create stunning arrangements that capture the mood of games and create a much more immersive experience.
Grace Li is a freelance writer from Omaha, Nebraska. She’s been published across many digital platforms for her expertise in entertainment sector industries and event planning. When she isn’t gaming with her two daughters, she’s volunteering at her local pet shelter.