The video game industry is an ever-changing one: new consoles, new technological advances and more complex narratives than ever.
Video games have been around for decades, providing entertainment for children and adults alike. Since its commercial birth in the 1950s as a technological oddity at a science fair, gaming has turned into the most profitable entertainment industry in the world.
The beginning of consoles
The world’s first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, was extremely simple, and it didn’t even have sound capabilities. Only three dots on screen, but a huge success. People loved it, selling over 100 million units. It is still one of the highest selling consoles of all time, and these consoles are now worth hundreds of dollars to vintage collectors.
This was just the very beginning for the video game industry. In 2020, gaming was recognized as the most profitable industry in the entertainment sector by a wide margin. In roughly 10 years, the video game industry has grown over 155%.
This hectic boom has also affected the way we understand video games, the way we play them, and therefore: the narrative behind them.
Video game narratives evolving
Narratives have evolved so much since video games inception back in the 1980s. As technology became more sophisticated and advanced, as the industry grew larger and larger, and as society got used to this industry, new and more complex ideas became possible.
Storylines had to follow a linear progression to keep file sizes reasonable, and characters were rendered as a few blocks of color on-screen. In the early ages of video games, developers had to be very creative if they wanted a story based game, sometimes at the expense of graphics. Having complex storylines wasn’t a must, one could become compelled by simple characters, bad visuals and repetitive structures. Now, we can find a huge list of games. From simple FPS to intricate story-based games which invite you into worlds with complex characters and scenarios.
Some of these feature narratives engage in such a way that the players themselves get to dictate the story, all based on their decisions (similar to adventure books) and influence the main storyline. One very good example of this would be Life Is Strange, an episodic graphic adventure video game in which the player’s actions adjust the narrative as it unfolds, and reshape it by traveling back in time. As we can see, an unthinkable option back in the 1980s.
It’s always been the ambition of many to reach this level of storytelling, yet it’s just never been possible in the past because technology has not allowed it.
Technology bringing new possibilities
So, not only is the game industry trying to improve narratives, but developers from around the world are using new and creative technologies to offer much more than static storytelling. Their main goal? To branch out from the traditional storytelling narrative seen in film and books.
In more recent years, technological advances such as VR systems have been getting more and more popularity among users and developers, making clear that virtual reality has come to stay and that the possibilities are endless. Video games like Beat Saber, Tetris Effect or Half-Life: Alyx have already made good use of these advances and achieved an incredibly immersive experience.
While VR is teletransporting players inside of the game, haptic technology can immerse them and make them feel like never before. Can you imagine feeling the same things as your avatar? OWO Game, the first company in the world to create and patent a haptic vest with which you can feel, physically, every action and sensation that happens in a video game, is actively working to bring this new possibility to players and developers: the new gaming era is upon us.