While California might have Silicon Valley, Florida has a strong gaming sector with companies like Cubix, Argentics, and Aspired all operating in the state. The giant Electronic Arts also has a large presence in the state, with its Florida HQ located in a large block in Orlando. Tampa also has its fair share of gaming companies too, with Gameion, Isotope 244, and ProjectMQ all based in the city.
Along with thousands of other companies across the US and the rest of the world, these gaming studios are all working to help shape the future of the medium.
Gaming Has Come a Long Way
Much has changed in the last few decades, with the people that play games, the machines they use to do it, and the types of titles they enjoy all evolving. Video games have gone from being the domain of men under 30 to being a near-universally accepted medium that’s enjoyed by a demographic as diverse as the ones that watch movies or go to the theatre.
That’s been helped by a change in focus by gaming companies. In addition to the traditional shoot ‘em ups, platformers, and fighting titles, they’ve experimented with new genres that have attracted new types of players.
Smartphones have also been crucial in shifting the medium from a large niche to the mainstream. They gave more people access to games, often for the first time. They helped to popularise “casual gaming”, a format that’s less intense and that allows players to jump in and out at their leisure.
But while contemporary gaming looks very different to how it did a few decades ago, the work of developers, like the ones based here in Florida, is going to completely change it again.
Virtual reality gaming has been talked about for decades. In fact, Nintendo even tried to create a VR console back in the 1990s, but it was a monumental failure as the hardware was unable to deliver on what the company promised.
Nearly 30 years on, VR headsets offer head-tracking, 4K picture quality, and are completely wireless. They’ve begun to be used for things like showcasing homes for realtors and creating remote concerts. As the hardware now makes virtual reality gaming feasible, many of the biggest companies in the industry are investing in creating content for platforms like the Oculus Quest 2.
This is only the beginning though as we could see a lot more from VR gaming in the future. It could make the whole experience much more immersive, not just once the game is running but from the moment you load it up. Rather than navigating through menus, VR games could make this process more like the real world.
For example, modern online casinos offer a broad range of different options for players to choose from. Those that enjoy roulette can choose from the original variant or one that uses American rules, as well as versions for high rollers and players at the opposite end of the scale. But instead of selecting from a menu VR, players could navigate around a virtual casino floor, walking past tables with each of these variants on and placing their chips down at the one they want to try.
The same would work for lobbies. Instead of just seeing a list of screen names before a game starts, VR lobbies could work like real rooms where players congregate, move around, and talk ahead of a new round, creating a much more social experience.
The End of Hardware-Dependent Titles
For the most part, if you download or buy a game for the PlayStation, you can’t play it on a PC or smartphone. Even if the game is available on all these platforms, you’ll be unable to copy over your save files or customisations (at least not without a lot of effort).
With the exception of a few games, you also can’t compete against your friends on other platforms either, forcing you to make sure you have the same hardware as your buddies.
The end is coming for this though, as a few different technologies look set to make gaming platform-independent.
Thanks to streaming services, you could begin playing a game on your Xbox, continue on your phone while you travel on the train, and then move over to your laptop when you arrive at your destination.
Cross-platform play, which is already available in titles like Fortnite, will mean your PC-owning friends won’t be left out of a gaming session with your PlayStation pals.