Game-changing trends disrupting the world of gaming

New and innovative technologies are changing the gameplay experience like never before. And this is only the start, says Stuart Smith, Professor of Disruptive Technologies at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Ever since our ancestors painted on cave walls, we have enjoyed communicating with others to build stronger social bonds.

Perhaps for almost as long, humanity has experienced the infectious joy of engaging in playful behaviour.

Sadly as we age, the opportunity for unrestricted “child-like” play seems to diminish, replaced instead by the pressures of adult life. 

However, games, or formalised systems of play, where rules govern the way in which we play, have endured and continue to remain deeply integrated into the human experience.

Over the last few decades, advances in computing and communication technologies have enabled us to extend the way in which we play games.

PlayStation 2 Eyetoy.

While the contemporary public image of a “gamer” may be of a solitary young person, hunched sedentary in front of a glowing screen, battling aliens with a hand-held game controller, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Parallel developments in sensing technologies have now also enabled us to redefine the notion of what it is to be a gamer. 

Peripheral devices like the Nintendo Wii, and before that the Sony PlayStation Eyetoy, have unshackled us from engaging with interactive digital games through the keyboard, joystick and gamepad.

With other motion capture devices like the Microsoft Kinect camera and Leap Motion, our entire bodies can now be used to control navigation through the storylines of our digital games. 

These new forms of engaging with digital technologies are an exciting way to address some of society’s huge issues in health, ageing and disability. 

For example, access to reliable broadband services over the nbn™ network can enable a physiotherapist based in any major city to work closely with a person recovering from a stroke in a regional, rural or remote location, and keep that person engaged in their physical, mental and social rehabilitation exercises.*

The vehicle for delivery of such exercises comes in the form of interactive, socially engaging video games that are fun to play and clinically meaningful.

There has never been a more exciting time for online gamers with the industry on the cusp of unlocking the full potential of fast connectivity.

Stuart Smith is the Professor of Disruptive Technologies at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

*Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans and how your service provider designs its network.

Disruptive online gaming trends

1. Location-based games like Ingress and Zombies Run! are taking the notion of digitally enhanced games back out into the "real world".

With these games we see the intersection between virtual, augmented and real worlds. As VR/AR technology like Microsoft's HoloLens become more commonplace, we will start to see really interesting new kinds of "games" being played.

2. Closely associated are games that make use of the Internet of Things technology. When we can add smart sensing and communication capability to everyday artifacts then we will be able to integrate them into gamespaces that extend beyond the digital into the real word.

This area is also known as Pervasive Games. According to the International Conference on Pervasive Games, these "games can be designed to be played in public spaces like hospitals and rehabilitation centers, shopping malls, conferences, museums and other non-traditional game venues."

3. Disney are launching a new range of wearable toys badged Playmation.

I'm really very interested to see where this approach to play goes. So watch this space!

4. Floyd Muller from RMIT's Exertion Games Lab does some great thinking in the area of play and games, particularly around physical and active play. Check out a recent interview with him here.

By Stuart Smith