If there is one activity that has undergone a sea change in perception, it is gaming. From being seen as a waste of time to now being held up as an educational and experiential tool—even, when used constructively, as an aid for overcoming stress and trauma—the gaming world is constantly evolving, technological advances driving it forward at a dizzying pace.
Of course, much of the recent explosion in the iGaming industry was pushed by the pandemic, when millions around the world were locked down and in danger of catching cabin fever. But tech came to the rescue, taking gaming from the margins to the mainstream to viral. This is a domain that will continue to grow apace.
Here are some of the key technologies with the potential to transform the way we create and consume games.
Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)
In AR, a gamer’s real world is layered with a digital backdrop, while in VR, the user finds herself deposited in another world, a ‘virtual’ 3D universe generated by a computer and experienced via a headset.
AR exploded into public consciousness with Pokémon Go. This massively popular game, with its engaging blend of the physical and the virtual, was connected to ‘reality’ while also being removed from it. And even though little of note has emerged post that, that’s not to say nothing has come out of the AR stable. In fact, game developers find more short-term promise in AR than in VR—because they aren’t creating worlds totally cut off from reality.
AR and VR are all about making the gaming experience more immersive. Yet, while it has been around for a while, VR has been hindered by astronomically high costs.
Virtual reality requires hardware, chiefly the use of headsets, whose awkward bulkiness has put off many from embracing it. Gradually, however, as new tech more cutting-edge than the last becomes available, expect VR to become user-friendly, and offer an experience that is more communal than solitary.
Maybe AR can pave the way for VR’s future success. Maybe VR’s time is finally here? Watch this space.
As we all know, there are innumerable risks associated with gaming online but the Blockchain, by the very fact of its sturdy data-encryption technology, goes a long way towards safeguarding a user’s in-game transactions.
Further, because every purchase is stored on the Blockchain, it can be tracked and verified, leaving little room for deception. This engenders trust among players as also between operators and players.
Such a guarantee of security will become ever more significant as gamers switch modes, from playing-to-win to playing-to-earn, and has the potential to revolutionize the iGaming industry.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
While Artificial Intelligence has been employed to enhance each gaming encounter for users, it is arguably more impactful in the design of games.
Developers have for a while been making use of AI to create in-game assets, producing data via algorithms in a computer-assisted technique termed procedural content generation (PCG). This allows them to conveniently focus on conceptualizing games, leaving the laborious tasks to AI.
PCG can also incorporate different levels into games, thus presenting new challenges every time the user plays. Games and levels are tweaked and changed by processing a mass of data that taps user preferences.
In the future, AI is likely to go as far as creating an environment in which it is possible to respond to the user’s actions in real-time, providing them with a far more interactive and engagingly participative experience.
It’s a collaboration that makes for an ideal balance: humans doing the designing and AI converting all that game content—including characters, situations, and objects—into data.
Incidentally, AI is also very handy in monitoring and detecting possible fraudulent behavior by gamers, which task helps keep the gaming universe as free from underhand tactics as possible.
This last point is of greater consequence because across the world new users are joining the gaming ecosystem, and new titles are being developed. So, the tech to ensure fairness and online safety have to be up to speed with the unstoppable growth of the iGaming industry.
Contributed by Dmitry Belianin, CCO, Parimatch International
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