As the popularity of gaming grows (there are around 3bn gamers on earth, who could potentially spend US$474bn a year by 2027), interest in just what’s powering the industry’s meteoric rise to fame climbs in tandem.
The Game Awards
Arguably, much of this appeal stems from gaming’s adaptability, a trait that means there is a title out there for everybody.
While The Game Awards announced modern fodder like Marvel’s Blade, God of War and Final Fantasy XVI DLC, and Hideo Kojima’s latest fever dream, Sega also revealed a step back in time with new entries in the Crazy Taxi, Streets of Rage, and Shinobi catalogues.
Of course, it’s possible to go beyond console and PC gaming to mobile and even casino experiences. The latter two have seemingly found common ground in Pragmatic Play’s Sugar Rush slot.
Sugar Rush, a rare 7×7 reel game, takes its cues from popular match-three apps such as Candy Crush and Jelly Splash, adding gummy bears, hearts, and stars to a marshmallow background.
All of these different variations on a formula set by Space Invaders and Mario back in the 1980s are (mostly) defined by the hardware they use, something that’s attracting attention from outside the gaming industry.
Games are made up of all sorts of technology. Take something like SpeedTree, a piece of modelling software used by Activision, Bungie, Ubisoft, and Bioware, among others. It renders trees and other bits of vegetation.
This granular approach to development, where functionality is imported into game engines, usually means that AAA titles are a mishmash of different technologies. Again, SpeedTree just creates virtual trees.
What makes the latter so important is that SpeedTree has been able to spread its branches beyond gaming into cinema. So, the palm trees in your favourite superhero movies may well owe their leaves to a developer in gaming.
According to Ukie, or UK Interactive Entertainment, this crossover technology was worth £1.3bn at last check, in November 2021. Other examples include AR and VR, rendering tech, and physics simulations.
The GameIndustry.biz website claims that even healthcare, which reports the lowest use of video game tech, compared to big consumers like energy and IT, was using game engines to treat patients.
What does that mean, though? Is CVS Health rendering bushes? Is the UK’s NHS climbing mountains in VR? The likelihood is that healthcare is using off-the-shelf engines like Unity to make web and mobile apps.
Alternatively, component developers like Nvidia have powerful network computers that they’re able to loan out. This is the basis of the company’s GeForce NOW platform, which lets gamers play recent console and PC titles on anything that has an internet connection.
It’s easy to see how this kind of tech could be used in data analysis and research. However, despite its low usage at present, it seems that healthcare wants to adopt VR as a therapy device. Harvard Medical School suggests a role in pain management.
It’s still relatively early in the lifecycle of video game tech so it’ll be interesting to see just how much of the world the industry still has left to conquer.