Gaming – Technology In Play

Back in the late 90s, the gaming industry was taking a significant turn in its definition and scale of game play. With 3D gaming technology being fully employed into games such as Super Mario 64 (1997), the strong cinematic narrative seen in Metal Gear Solid (1999) and the scope of Final Fantasy 7 (1997), the gaming industry had stepped up its game. Literally.

At the time it could have been seen as a sign of things to come, however the immediate after-flow of games seemed only to work on what these games have done rather than completely redefine its genre such as Super Mario 64 did with the platform genre. To look back it is apparent that it is the leap in 3D graphics at the time meaning that it would actually take another huge technological leap to re-invent the games/genres we play today. Gaming technology has always driven the possibility and differences of new gaming genres and this is what I wish to explore in this article.

The advertising tag for this was "is your tv big enough", a great comment on how games were changing beyond the TVs they've always been played on.

With both Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy 7, there was a huge leap on what these games could accomplish to their predecessors. It was the jump to CD ROM that made the scope of FF7 possible and the Hollywood combination of visuals and sound in MGS.

The same effect of new technology into great games can be seen also in the late 80s where gaming had changed due to the first successful home consoles such as the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), offering something different to that of their arcade parents. Primarily, the first video games ever created were basic reflex and aiming endeavours. And, as technology has evolved, so have the game mechanics and genres to it as well as the audience. Only kids could have been marketed with a game like Super Mario Bros (1987) on the NES, with its cartooned visuals, which were all that was capable at the time. But, as time went by, more was possible through advancing graphics technology, therefore more was possible contextually allowing for a possible older age range in gaming. The very definition of what gaming is in its time seems to reside on the technology of its time.

There is always the matter of game play over visuals, but ultimately video games is technology, and it is with new technology that we can expect the most likely groundbreaking games and new genres.

A glimpse into the future for Nintendo perhaps?

It has always been the games at the forefront of change that are often heralded as the best games of all time or given that elusive 10/10 score which so many sites and magazines hold for the best of the best. And rightly so, these games have more than the advantage of being state of the art, their usually ground breaking in content, opening up the possibilities for the ever expanding world of video games entertainment.

Now it seems we’re once again in the front line of gaming evolution. With the success of Nintendo’s Wii motion control, the physical practice of gaming has changed from its long running gamepad peripherals and the ease of use with it has also enabled the industry to expand into different age groups. BluRray game discs and DVD allow games to reach new heights in visual scope and scale; gaming graphics are getting closer to the CGI found in films allowing performance to be an attribute, such as that found in Heavenly Sword. Online multiplayer has reached a new mainstream audience with the successful online networks on consoles such as Xbox live. These are small advances compared to the jump from arcade to console, or 2D to 3D, but important ones that mould the current gaming generation into a more ’serious’ one.   It was, after all, not too long ago when games consoles had names such as Mega Drive or Game Boy, names aimed for the toy market in comparison with the now family/adult targeted names of (DS) Duel Screen or Wii.

So what does the rest of the future hold for us? With Project Natal and 3D gaming on the horizon, we can be sure of some exciting developments in ‘what we play’, rather than the obvious ‘how we play’. Well, so long as it’s nothing like the Virtual Boy.

I personally, like to think the greatest turning point in gaming would be the implementation of full virtual reality or a Star Trek style “holodeck” room in gaming. This could put gaming into a full mainstream phenomenon, even more so then it is now. And as for the first few games that are released on it, those will most likely change the ever debatable definition of video games.

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  1. Rook says:

    I am waiting for the holodeck gaming technology and will probably avoid the survival horror genre by that stage.

    There’s also the inclusion of being abke to save games that have helped make games advance to bigger and better things too. The battery back up packs in Nintendo’s cartridge games, to memory cards and now the hard drives included.

  2. Victor Victor says:

    Argh. Mark stole the idea for my next blog. The b******. Good blog, though. I am waiting for the Pimp expansion pack for Sim 3. Complete with virtual mattress, virtual STD’s and the other things that make pimping so fun.

  3. Mark Boss says:

    I actually like to come up with ideas for games that will be built on the Holo deck tech. So fingers crossed it will be avial in the near future.

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I spent a few nights last week playing Risen, Command & Conquer Generals and Command & Conquer Zero Hour in anaglyph 3D… just because… and I really enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it more if it was Real 3D rather than the red/cyan type but it’s just another step forward isn’t it? As much as I love how quickly technology progresses, I hate the impact on my bank balance. I’m on a spending hiatus for a couple of years though, so I’ll need to make do with “tomorrow’s technology…. tomorrow” rather than the overused tagline of “tomorrow’s technology… today”.

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