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Gaming in times of Cloud Computing

Human being is playful by nature; we play from the cradle to the grave; in our adulthood playing facilitates learning and communication processes. Computer games have traveled a long way from the beginnings of computing machines to the modern platforms that use cloud infrastructure to be operated and give access to thousands of simultaneous players.

The first computer game was created in 1952, it was a simple “tic tac toe” which offered you the ability to compete against a computer. Afterwards first games that allowed interaction between human beings appeared, they used simple controls to modify an oscilloscope reaction that created the appearance of the going and coming movement of a tennis ball.  Games were becoming more complex and during 70’s videogame machines became very popular, they were usually installed in shopping malls or business dedicated to gaming. People came to those places since there was no hardware dedicated to this purpose into households.

Advent of personal computer made popular games that used TV screens as visual interface while taking advantage of computer processing to run the game. Later those games evolved thanks to improvement of graphic interface power, and computing processing capacity grew to allow 3D scenery generation.

Simultaneously manufacturers started the creation of gaming dedicated hardware, they designed consoles with great graphic process capacity and interactive controls, achieving even more realistic reactions of characters. However, this limited players and made them dependent of specific brand hardware, adding the need to constantly renewing consoles in order to upgrade to the last videogame version. 

Emergence of multi-player network scenarios allowed people to find others to play around the clock, they connected participants almost in every country behind their avatars. Internet connection speed plays an important role when it comes to games that require quick reaction, those situations are subjected to “Lag” term used to denominate the time between player action and reflection of such inside the game, it can occur due to different reasons like overload in local video processing or variations in internet speed. Lag is by large one of the most frustrating experiences of online players.

"Videogame developers face a paradigm change in how they distribute their content; they are passing from hardware dependence to new streaming models"

In those environments is crucial not only having access to high-speed channels, but also that servers (where game content is allocated) are closest geographically from recipients, so that delay introduced by distance don’t spoil player’s performance.

The most recent tendency in videogames is going far from use of dedicated consoles, it proposes accessing videogames in streaming mode, as well as Netflix, you pay a subscription for having access to a broad menu of games; thus, it is not necessary to invest in a new console in order to improve features, but processing is done in a centralized way. One platform that offers this model nowadays is Gloud. There is indication that Google is developing an internal project intended to provide a big scale cloud platform for game processing, it will give people with modest hardware the power to access last generation graphics and interaction experience, this will overcome hardware barrier. One platform of such characteristics has been developed by NVIDIA, it is named GE Force Now; The graphics processors hardware manufacturer allows (in Beta) the ability to play totally online games. AWS has also entered with its powerful worldwide-distributed cloud, giving easier access to any player around the world, and using its own game process engine.

Videogame developers face a paradigm change in how they distribute their content; they are passing from hardware dependence to new streaming models where they will have to compete to attract players, but with the advantage of having access to broader audiences not restricted by infrastructure. Cloud environments also ease video game processing during creation phase, it is the case of Google Zync cloud render services, it counts with groups from 50 machines to develop rendering tasks, reducing requirement of hardware purchase and maximizing capacity in order to comply with demanding workflows. 

Cloud arrived to stay in many known industries; videogame is one among them. We will see in near future how it will help to improve user experience and in hand with hardware sensors they will evolve to integrate with virtual reality.

 

Isabel Cristina Yepes

Cloud Evangelist in Colombia

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