National Video Game Day and the future of digital gaming

With virtual and augmented reality becoming a commercial reality, it’s easy to forget that only 67 years ago digital gaming only existed in a few laboratories around the world, reserved for mathematicians and scientists who programmed a computer to play chess programs. Today, digital gaming (including console, PC and mobile) is a $61 billion industry.

With National Gaming Day falling on September 12, let’s look at the evolution of gaming and what we can expect in the next few years.

The evolution of commercial gaming

The 60’s

The 1960s saw the creation of Spacewar!, developed in 1962 by Steve Russell with Martin Graetz and Wayne Wiitanen. It was a two-player competitive space ship game that ran on the PSP-1 computer. Players would fly around and had to shoot each other while combating against the pull of gravity of a nearby star. It exploded in popularity as university students copied it from campus to campus, inspiring a new generation of game developers to be created.

The 70’s

Games grew even more popular in the 1970s with the advent of home consoles, pioneered by the father of video games, Ralph Baer, and arcade hits like Space Invaders. Space Invaders, a relatively simple game where players defended the earth against a never-ending barrage of aliens, became so popular in Japan that the country soon ran out of 10 yen coins to play the machines with.

The 80’s

The 1980s were synonymous with great home computers like the Commodore 64 or dedicated 8-bit gaming consoles entering the market. Kids, hobbyists and fledgling publishing companies around the world soon took to making their own games for these machines. Titles like Pitfall, Super Mario Brothers or Frogger soon became household names and are still fondly remembered today.

The 90’s

In the 1990s Nintendo and Sega dominated the home console market with their high-powered gaming consoles and popular games soon became long-running franchises like Sonic The Hedgehog and Super Mario Kart. Meanwhile, home computers had become so powerful that 3D games like Doom or Flight Simulator became more popular than word processors.

2000’s and beyond

After 2000, the internet and mainstream popularity saw video games leave the bedroom and become a lifestyle accessory. Now you can play games on your mobile, on your tablet or on your TV interchangeably – it’s never been a better time to be a gamer!

Top trends that will define the future of gaming

Virtual reality adoption rates rising: As it stands, virtual reality still has some kinks to work out, but as cost-per-production continues to reduce for a VR system and sensory immersion improves, so will the market. This will be a game-changer for online marketing and advertising.

The growth of e-sport: E-sports commercial success will continue to boom, with analysts predicting the industry will double in size over the next year increasing to $1 billion with an audience close to 500 million. In 2016 alone we saw Counter-Strike, Overwatch and Street Fighter V streamed on TV.

Mobile crossover with TV: As consoles evolve into multimedia devices, it seems that everyone wants mobile to do the same. Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail said of mobile “if mobile really wants to make the next step, what it’s going to do is connect to TVs”.

If the changes in the gaming industry over the past 60 years are anything to go by, gaming by 2030 will be virtually unrecognisable, keeping game and app developers with both hands on the accelerator.

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