Gaming is no longer the dominion of outsiders. Yes, there are still niche areas, but mass market games such as FIFA or Grand Theft Auto have firmly placed computer games into the mainstream and created a huge industry. When it arrives in the periphery of people with influence incredible things can be achieved, and this has happened is the case of gaming. There are so many new uses that have been born out of gaming that you might not even know about.
When an industry is worth $91.5b, double that of film, a new frontier is born. To begin with it is the games and development that see improvement from a competitive industry. Sega and Atari sit in the graveyard of that particular one. Subcultures are born from it too with huge communities burgeoning from games like World of Warcraft and entertainment like PewDiePie (47m subcribers and counting!). Eventually giants emerge to battle and progress. The latest generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony are the most powerful purpose built gaming consoles ever made. This competition and ‘arms race’ not only benefits us as gamers, but accelerates the progress of technology allowing it to expand in to other areas.
Controllers are for more than just games
One notable area which gaming has given to the rest of the world, is the controllers. There is a plethora of needs for more intuitive and tighter control over tech products, and the evolution of controllers has meant they can be used elsewhere. They have come a long way since the first ever joystick. That one for the 1958 release of Tennis for Two had a single joystick and one button. Now they are molded to your hands with a combination of buttons, joysticks and triggers.
The 3D MRI and Cat scan visualization software BodyViz uses them to help surgeons inspect a virtual part of a patient’s body. From this they are able to plan what they hope to do without the complications of moving tissue around. The Xbox controller is vital to BodyViz’s, use as its functionality allows the surgeon a fluid experience that is far superior to a mouse. Flight simulation controllers are widely used in military hardware too, especially drones. The inside of a drone operation in Iraq or Syria will look more like a gaming setup than a war room!
A recent trend in Human Resources has also been born out of gaming. Gamification is a way of training employees using the design and concepts from computer games. The competition element and the fact the trainees are ‘doing’ something means their memory retains skills more effectively and the time it takes to learn is reduced compared to simple theory. McDonald’s are perhaps the biggest company to incorporate this when training staff on a new till system. Staff members had to play against time pressures when using the till and keep virtual customers happy. This is something we could all be experiencing in the future at our own work environment!
What could VR do for the rest of the world?
The most exciting evolution from gaming has to be Virtual reality. 2016 will see the release of VR on both PS4 and Xbox, and gamers are excited to see what uses they will see in a gaming format. For non-gamers it could also see new products appearing. VR has a great use for disabled people who are not very mobile. VR technology could be used for a more inclusive doctor appointment or even to travel to places the user would never have thought possible. Online learning has always been inferior to classes in the flesh, but VR could put the student in a more inclusive environment, improving their learning experiences from afar. Training the next generation of surgeons is vital and VR is a way of not only having risk free practice, but also adding a bit more reality to their training which could make them less prone to mistakes when they are faced with the real thing.
So while some will still attempt to dismiss gaming as mere entertainment and time wasting, just remember that the games you play today could be shaping our lives in the future.