It’s an oft-repeated hippie maxim that the North American Indians had no words to distinguish work from play, presumably because they’d all been on this really good mindfulness course and were all living in the moment. Well, unfortunately it’s going to take more than a Ladybird book to reconcile those binary opposites and as a consequence, digital play just keeps on growing.
We’ve come a long way since the days of arcade favourites Space Invaders and of course the cock-pit style 1983 version of Star Wars. It would only make sense really that today’s Sci-Fi video games utilise only the most up to date technology, and that’s exactly what Ingress does. Using augmented reality gameplay, this huge multiplayer game is an elaborate Sci-Fi narrative that uses real locations. Players join rival secret societies and fight for control of XM (Exotic Matter), which is entering the world through famous landmarks and buildings.
Surely the oldest type of game in history, Chess is at least 1.500 years old and Go may date back 4.000 years. Men of a certain age may remember how their megalomaniac fantasies were fed by a board game called Risk, where the fate of the world was decided by your little plastic armies and a roll of the dice. Well, if you liked that, you’ll like the Android app Age of Civilizations. You’ve got a whole range of scenarios, including both World Wars or you can create your own, you’ve also got 193 civilizations and two planets. Complex, challenging, addictive.
Yep, it’s another strategy game but this time it’s a digital recreation of the physical game rather than a new game. The first online poker game was released on January 1st 1998 on Planet Poker. Less than twenty years later players were able to download poker apps on their phone and today companies are continuing to evolve the beloved card game, including experimenting with VR, AR and gesture control. The partypoker app enables players to ‘increase, or decrease, your bet sizes with a slide of your finger, drag your bets onto the table, or flick your cards into the muck’: a nice example of gesture control being used in a way which is entirely appropriate to the game, rather than as a tricksy bolt on.
The most controversial of gaming genres shows no signs of slowing down, and one game that has been upsetting people for a while has now upset a whole lot more with its VR incarnation. ‘Grand Theft Auto’ has always stood on morally dubious ground: is it ok to entertain yourself by engaging in violent criminal activities? Sure, would argue millions of people, it’s only a game. Except that the game just got real, so real that even enthusiasts are finding themselves a little discomforted by the experience of gunning down an innocent human being in VR. Suddenly the pixelated desktop game Doom no longer seems so bad.
This timeline of racing video games highlights how much this genre has evolved since its inception in 1974. The premise of the genre is simple, but the stories, graphics and technology have gained complexity over the last 40 odd years. Back in the day, the notion of playing a racing game with a steering wheel and joy stick was pretty exciting, but today gamers can experience even more realism with the help of VR headsets to transport them behind the wheel.