In just the last two decades alone, video games have changed a crazy amount. From the early days of games like Pong to the HD graphics that we see today, it’s not hard to see that this industry has undergone a massive change.
If you think back to the first video game you ever played, it probably pales in comparison to the types that you can play today. Depending on your age, you may have first played Space Invaders, Sonic or perhaps an early Zelda game. It almost makes us cringe now to think how these small, basic pixels kept us entertained for hours, with a little help from our imaginations.
Some of the more recent games that have come out highlight this to a ridiculous amount. Games like Horizon Zero Dawn are almost like an entirely different genre, never mind the same industry a mere few years away from 8-bit games. In fact, these 8-bit games are actually having a bit of a resurgence, as the indie industry steps in with innovative ways to use these graphics.
Even online games can now stand up to what we expect from our PCs and consoles. They were once blocky little games that would take what felt like hours to render. There are now better graphics in new gambling sites like online casinos than some games that you can purchase in the Steam Store. This is surprising, as we always think of online games lagging so much further behind the rest of the industry.
At the core, video game graphics are the same as they’ve always been, groups of pixels that entertain the user. The depth and scope of them are very different now though, where once we had a few coloured blocks we now have entire worlds made up of thousands of pixels. The imagination can take a back seat these days as it’s eclipsed by the sheer power that processors have nowadays. You don’t need to imagine the paddle in pong, you can have a free roam universe for this game with players, paddles and anything else you could wish for.
For some of us, this constant march of progress may seem a little sad, as we pine for the basic games of our childhoods. This is often a rose-tinted view, however, as we don’t actually sit and play on our SNES even though the option is there. It’s almost as though we don’t miss the simplicity so much as our ability to be entertained by it.
So where will this whacky world of gaming take us next? When games are indistinguishable from real life, what else do they have left to impress us with? We’re not that far off from that all-out immersion, with augmented reality set to turn the tables once more. The beauty of the gaming industry and the vast number of developers is that there’s always something new being created to be explored. Whether that’s by one person in their basement or an entire team of developers almost doesn’t matter anymore.
Open source software like the Unreal Engine stimulates this growth, as anyone can make a 3D game that will stand up to the big dogs. As the march towards bigger and better graphics continues a lot of players don’t really care about them anymore. Simply having engaging gameplay and a new way to play can be much more important for these players now, as they know what an HD human face looks like already.
The one thing that we can predict without a shadow of a doubt is that no matter where this crazy industry takes us, it will be a rapid progression. Trends in the gaming industry take hold almost overnight and become the new industry standard before many developers even have a chance to hear about them. Graphics will always be getting better but we predict they will take a back seat to other aspects like ingenuity.