Gaming is a hobby for billions of people around the world, with many choosing to use games to socialize, relax, and have fun. Its popularity has helped to create a multi-billion dollar industry and also led to the growth of esports.
How Technology Has Changed the Gaming Industry
But none of this would be possible without technology. Of course, we’ve been playing games for centuries and only had modern technologies for about 60 years, but the industry would look very different today had we not benefited from some of these pivotal developments.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels are everywhere today. You can find them on your TV, your car, and on your computer. Walk down the street and traditional billboards and other advertisement spaces have been replaced with digital versions that use LCD screens. In gaming, they’re used in arcade machines and the video slots you can find in casinos, betting shops, and other entertainment establishments.
However, there was a time when LCD panels were not commonplace. Back then, instead of digital animation slot machines used mechanical reels which physically spun around.
While the introduction of LCD panels changed the look and feel of these games, they have also completely changed the way slot games are played. Today, video slots contain multiple pay lines, symbols that can cover more than one position on a reel, bursting symbols, and bonus games that have different mechanics from a traditional spinning slot reel.
The invention of the video slot also allowed the format to be taken online and for designers to get creative with the games they create, drawing on inspiration from space, nature, and history to produce unique themed titles. Today, you’ll find hundreds of these video slot games online, including popular options like Stars Invaders, Diamond Stars, and Lion Storm. All of them contain these features that wouldn’t have been possible before the era of LCD screens.
LCD panels have also made mobile gaming possible and allowed us to benefit from HD and 4K picture quality. Before this technology, we were stuck using clunky CRT monitors and TVs that were as deep as they were wide and tall, meaning they took up much more space on desks and couldn’t be made as big.
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In the 1970s, we loaded computers and consoles with tapes. In the 1980s, we got cartridges and floppy discs, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that we got to use CDs for gaming.
Sony launched the PlayStation in 1994, moving away from the cartridges that were still used in Nintendo’s 64 consoles. CDs provided more storage, with around 700 MB compared to the 64 MB in Nintendo’s cartridges. They were also smaller, lighter, cheaper to make, and didn’t need batteries.
Apart from the fact that you no longer needed to take a cartridge out of your console to blow on the contacts when it doesn’t load, CDs also helped the industry with much larger and more complex games. Larger maps, open-worlds, and dialogue were only possible thanks to the ten-fold increase in capacity offered by CDs.
It wouldn’t be long before CDs were replaced by DVDs and then by Blu-Rays as developers sought more and more space for their ever-expanding creations, but the Compact Disc helped the industry to re-imagine the way video games would be delivered to consumers.
The internet has been just as pivotal as LCD panels. Early video games were very limited in the multiplayer functionality that they could offer. If you wanted to play with friends, you’d all have to crowd around a single screen or take it in turns with just one keyboard or controller.
The internet revolutionized the gaming industry, creating new ways for players to enjoy titles and providing new income sources for publishers. Today, gamers don’t just pay a one-off charge to buy a game, they also often pay recurring fees to get access to new downloadable content and join multiplayer servers.
Online gaming has helped many games to remain popular much longer than they would have normally. CS: GO, Minecraft, and League of Legends are eight, ten, and 12 years old respectively, yet they remain popular today, despite games traditionally only having a lifespan of a few years.
It is believed that there are more than one billion online gamers as of 2021, with the figure set to grow even larger in the coming years.