Hardware news : « What is coming next to make games even more immersive? »

Author // DEDENYS Caplice Siobhan
Posted in // Non classé

A brief (not exhaustive) history :

Since they have been created, video games have had one objective above all others: immerse you into a different world, universe, make you feel special and powerful. To achieve such a thing, they do their best – with the work of artists and engineers combined – so that you can’t tell the difference between material reality and the universe they depict. And how do they do that?  Realistic graphics with computers and consoles that become more and more powerful; immersive gameplay with ergonomic controllers, or even motion control.

Back in the 70’s, the golden age of arcades made video games accessible. More and more people could play them. With the evolution of technology, and as the number of people working in that field was growing every day, video games were soon to explore new paths of play. In 1989, Nintendo released the Zapper, and accessory that allowed players to play games such as Duck Hunt, in which you had to shoot ducks, using the Zapper to aim at the screen.  In the 90’s, the development of 3D video games let you explore a virtual space. With those appeared steering wheels, guns, and a lot of others accessories to enhance your experience.



In 2006, Nintendo (again), released the Nintendo Wii with motion controllers only. This system allowed players to do a wide range of things, with the same controller. A lot of accessories came out to make it even more immersive. Consoles of the 7th generation (Wii, PlayStation 3, XBOX 360) all developed new controls, like PlayStation Move or Kinect. Until then, only Nintendo had bothered to develop such immersive technology.


Where is technology now ?

Today, technology is at a very high level. Some games are so beautiful it is hard to tell the difference between real life and video games. High-end GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit, the computer part that generates the graphics of the game) are now more powerful than ever, and it looks like things will keep going in that direction.

Products are getting better: thinner, lighter, they’ll eventually last longer if they have a built in battery. Yet, technology is stuck. Since games are so visually appealing now, what more progress is to be made? The answer probably lies within…the accessories. Even though consoles and PC try to use as few accessories as possible nowadays, new technology could LITTERALLY bring a new dimension to gaming on the video games’ system.


Virtual Reality

For the past few years, a lot of companies have been developing different technologies to improve the players’ experience. Thanks to recent progress in terms of miniaturization, for every part of a product, new devices are made possible, when they could not have existed a few years ago. Let’s take two examples : The Oculus Rift, and the Virtualizer.


First, the Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset. What it means is: when you wear it, it allows you to see a video game as if you were actually “in it”. With simple words: all you can see is the game ! So you are completely immersed in the game’s universe.  Oculus Rift is the first famous virtual reality project to be seriously developed. The project started in 2012, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website meaning that many people (called backers) can pay to help a project to develop. Several versions of the prototype have been made since 2012, and the retail version is supposed to be released later this year. A lot of other companies have announced their own VR (Virtual Reality) headset, such as Samsung, HTC, or Sony.


The Cyberith Virtualizer is another virtual reality device, but it is not a headset. This product, which has also managed to be made thanks to Kickstarter, is a device which allows you to move freely as if you were in the game. It looks like a plastic circle on the ground, with three pods around it. The player is held by a specific system, that lets you walk, run, jump, crouch, exactly like you would normally do, but the device will translate it as an input (a message you give the computer so it does something specific, much like a command). Combined with a VRH, such as the Oculus Rift, you can really feel as if you were living the game. Almost nothing feels unnatural anymore, and you can feel like you were anywhere : battlefield/racetrack/arena/horror movie hospital, walking around, jumping and hiding.


Is it so great?

Even though this technology seems extremely cool and impressive, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind: First of all, these devices are still prototypes. Of course, they are to be released soon, but still, the first version might not be perfect, and research on those particular inventions will probably take a few more years for them to be absolutely intuitive. Also, both the Oculus Rift and Virtualizer, and also all the other similar technologies are very likely to be very expensive, making it even more important to think twice before you get it. And, last but not least, these systems are very big, and take a lot of room, especially the Virtualizer. So, in the end, this is probably the beginning of a new era for video games, but it will take some time for this revolution to be effective, and this possible “new era” to truly begin.

Théo Nottez.

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DEDENYS Caplice Siobhan

English Teacher in Rubika. Started the blog with students hope they keep it alive !

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