A leap into the future of videogaming: a new focus on quality

Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

Regardless of how frequently they play video games nowadays, most current high school students will always hold onto their fond memories of games and consoles they once enjoyed in their childhood.

These same students might recall seeing each other’s faces illuminated in the light of a single Nintendo DS screen while in transit to a school field trip, or perhaps they remember gathering with their friends on a Friday afternoon to play the latest editions of “Guitar Hero III” and “Rock Band II,” which seemed to be the most advanced games at that time.

“Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” were two phenomena that utilized instrument-shaped controllers that made it easier for players to imagine themselves performing onstage in an actual rock band.

Popular Nintendo DS games like “Nintendogs” immersed players by having them physically blow on the screen to create bubbles in-game and issue voice commands to which their virtual pets would respond.

Since the release of “Nintendogs” and “Guitar Hero” in the mid-2000s, the ability of video games to immerse their players in such an interactive manner has improved immensely.

In recent times, newly developed technology, combined with a generally increasing respect for video games as both an art form and storytelling medium, has vastly increased the potential for video games to transport their players into intricately designed and carefully rendered unique worlds augmented by characters that are three-dimensional both in physical appearance and in personality.

The majority of the exciting consoles, which consist of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo displayed at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo have already been released, but still, there is much more on the horizon for gamers to look forward to.

Not only do newer gaming consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 have enhanced graphics capabilities, but video game developers are also working on fresh ways to improve the realism of their games.

For instance, Quantic Dream, the French developer responsible for hits like “Heavy Rain” and “Beyond: Two Souls,” uses a new technique called “performance capture” to create realistic, film-like visuals that improve their games’ ability to captivate and immerse players.

“Performance capture” works like this: markers are physically placed on the voice actors so that all of their dialogue, body movements, and facial expressions can be recorded at once.  This modern technological tactic allows the actors to cooperate and interact with each other during a scene and provide a smoother and more realistic portrayal of the interaction among players.

The combination of more highly-detailed graphics and characters with increasingly realistic mannerisms makes it easier for players to become immersed in a game.

Future video consoles, which are well on their way to being merchandized, are even more advanced than the ones currently on the market.

Oculus VR is one branch of video game technology that has announced Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that looks like it came straight out of a science fiction movie.

With a wide field of view, head-tracking, and stereoscopic 3D, Oculus Rift immerses players by allowing them to step into and explore virtual worlds as if it they were truly present.

Furthermore, earlier this year Sony unveiled Project Morpheus, a prototype virtual reality headset intended to bring PlayStation 4 users a more immersive, three-dimensional gaming experience.

Neither Oculus Rift nor Project Morpheus has been released yet, but the former can be pre-ordered on Oculus VR’s website for a price of $350.