What technology goes into online games?

What technology goes into online games? Don’t stress, today we’ll answer this question in detail. It’s a fact that although board games have been making a comeback in the last decade (it’s not just Monopoly and Scrabble anymore!) online gaming remains one of the most popular pastimes in the world.

When mobile games and console video games are included, it seems as if everyone plays one online game or another. Like so much technology, online games sometimes seem to work by magic. In reality, however, there are many different pieces of technology that make them work.

Online Games

What technology goes into online games?

Servers

Possibly the most important technology in online games is the server. Servers do not impact how games are played, but they do make it possible to play them at all. A server is a hub that transmits the data that makes a game playable. Servers are powerful enough to allow a large, sometimes massive number of players to play the game at the same time. Dedicated and listen servers are the two main types of servers – dedicated servers are remote and often housed in professional data centres, while listen servers are smaller and sometimes on site, such as during LAN parties. Some servers are private or dedicated to a certain style of game play or demographic, such as for competitions or for women only.

HTML5

While servers are a physical necessity for online gaming, HTML5 is a technical requirement. HTML5 is a coding language that controls how things online look and behave, like how a website looks or how multimedia files play. It is essential for the functioning of browser games. It is the reason that browser games were able to continue to exist following the end of Adobe Flash. While HTML5 cannot be used to animate or create online games, it is what makes them function.

Randomisation and probability

Part of the fun of video games is the element of surprise – you never know exactly what loot is in that treasure chest or how a boss battle will play out. Many games operate using statistical probability to determine the likelihood that an event or outcome will happen. With complex computer code, game developers can distinguish between the chance that something will happen, the probability of it happening and can even code in an amount of luck to weigh that probability in the player’s favour (or not!). This same type of code is used in online casino games. For example, in online slot games, it is what determines the odds that any one spin will be a winner. According to OnlineGamblingSA.com, the probability and luck factors can be predetermined so that players win often enough to keep the game fun.

Motion control

One of the biggest technological developments in game controls in recent years has been the creation of motion controllers. These are game controllers that track the player’s body movements and use those to move the character on screen. The Wii was the first big innovation in motion control gameplay. Many of its earliest games, such as Wii Bowling, were sports-based. Dance games also became very popular, both as video games and as a form of exercise. Recently, the Nintendo Switch has improved on these controllers by combining a motion controller with a more traditional console controller.

Augmented reality

The massive success of Pokémon Go when it debuted shows the potential for augmented reality games in the future. Augmented reality is when there is a virtual overlay over the real world, that the player is able to interact with. It is sometimes referred to as mixed reality, as it blends virtual reality elements with the real world. It works by using your phone’s camera (or special equipment such as augmented reality glasses) to record or display the real world and then place the virtual elements into the scene so that when you look at your phone’s screen you can also see the virtual aspects. In the case of Pokémon Go, the virtual overlay is in the form of adorable creatures that you can battle and capture using your phone.

Another augmented reality game that became very popular on its release was Zombies, Run! This game combined audio elements with the virtual aspects and created a story that encouraged the player to run to escape, making it popular as a fitness app.

Even simple games require tons of technology and many of the games we enjoy today would have been impossible to imagine even 10 years ago. So the next time you’re killing time by playing games on your phone or spending a day gaming with your friends, take a moment to think about how amazing it is that we have the technology to make these modern online games possible.

Watch this space for updates in the Gaming category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Staff Writer

Running Wolf's Rant's correspondent who chooses to remain anonymous...

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