Defining “immersive gaming” may be somewhat ambiguous and challenging, but gamers can (mostly) agree on two fundamental principles: It’s both a unique, intellectual model and offers environmental consistency within the world of gaming.
Additionally, as gamers become more and more difficult to impress, developers are striving to create games that are more immersive than those that came before. What does the industry have in store for immersive sims? Truthfully, the secret lies in the sensory experience. Here’s the direction that augmented, virtual and immersive gaming is heading.
More Cognitively-Challenging Environments & Plots
At the foundation of every immersive sim is a solid setting and plot — and the further developed both are, the better. In fact, the more players can use their brain to play a game, the more immersive that overall experience becomes. When a player’s brain is consumed with the navigation and understanding of the simulated world, experts say they wind up paying less attention to any flaws or minor inaccuracies that would otherwise distract from the fact that this gaming world is not real.
Long before the term “immersive simulation” was coined, players got sucked into 2K’s Bioshock — and many did not come up for air. It’s this combination of an elaborate, cohesive game world; a compelling storyline; and mentally demanding game play that developers will aim to create in any future immersive sim.
More Mobile Gaming
Now that everyone and their grandma owns a smartphone, mobile gaming will inevitably become more all-encompassing. In fact, the immersive experience provided by smartphones will likely focus less on creating a new game world and more on providing deeper integration in reality. For example, the success of games like Pokémon GO, Temple Run and Super Mario Run foreshadow the surge to come.
However, some gamers don’t foresee this integration happening anytime soon since current real-world-based games are largely limited to gambling apps. Additionally, designers are often unwilling to part with antiquated game designs. In other words, there seems to be comfort in familiarity.
Another hindrance in the evolution of mobile gaming is screen size. If mobile gaming is to advance and convert the casual player into someone who’s more committed, the industry as a whole must think bigger.
More Enhanced VR and AR Gaming
Perhaps synonymous with future gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality games are said to be some of the most anticipated innovations in the near future. VR equipment like Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus are paving the way for enhanced VR and AR experiences. Furthermore, AR and VR headsets have proved to create the best immersive experience for today’s gamers, as these devices alter their view of the “real world,” forcing reality to reflect the content of the game.
The immersive sim is grounded in sensory submersion, and with virtual and augmented reality devices, developers can inch even closer to covering all human senses. With sight, sound and touch integration already in place, 3-D adds a sense of realism, meaning taste and smell are likely up next on the sensory list. Scent-emitting virtual reality headsets are not long off, either. In fact, the Museum of the Moving Image in New York features a Goldilocks game, developed by Apple and which can be played on an iPhone, that does just that.
To produce VR and AR experiences of this caliber, devices require some of the best mobile processors. Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms deliver heightened visuals and audio in 3-D with virtually no lag time, creating a more intuitive and immersive gaming experience. Moving forward, these advanced technologies will become the standard across all platforms.
As the gaming community expands — and becomes more inclusive and moves further into mainstream culture — game design, fueled by cutting-edge mobile processing technology, will become more advanced. This will allow for the production of higher quality mobile gaming, more eloquent game plots and settings, and deeper sensory AR and VR experiences. Game on.