Video gaming is a massive industry, worth around 60 billion dollars in the US alone. Consumers spent more than $40 billion on gaming in 2018, and that figure continues to rise year on year. Gaming technology is always improving, as consumers demand ever more sophisticated graphics and 3D rendering of imaginary worlds.
For todays generation, being raised alongside evolving technology, they are familiar with every aspect of gaming, from touch screens to controllers. They can easily set up their own mods on games like Minecraft. The older crowed might find passing the luck down to the players in New Zealand with this five-reel Dragons Luck slot, is a fun and easy for adults that are just as entranced with gaming.
How Virtual Worlds Have Evolved
Virtual worlds have evolved in a big way. Early games were very two-dimensional, and it wasn’t until MMORPGs became really popular that the whole idea of exploring a virtual world exploded.
Whereas the video games of the 90s were blocky and pixelated, modern games are highly detailed representations of virtual worlds. It’s very easy to become immersed in a digital world very different from our own, where characters are under your control and you are free to explore new places from the comfort of your sofa or desk.
GIS technology plays a bit part in the rendering of such worlds, as we are about to explore.
What is GIS?
GIS stands for geographic information system, which is a framework for analysing and managing spatial data. The data from GIS helps scientists and engineers to create maps, watershed patterns, plan cities, and even track wildlife.
This ability to create 3D maps and scenes has a huge application in the sphere of gaming.
As we have already mentioned, players expect their virtual worlds to look realistic these days, with the possible exception of games like Minecraft, where blocks are all part of the game’s design.
If you set foot into a game like World of Warcraft or Red Dead Redemption, it’s an immersive experience. As you move your characters around, they are able to walk over mountains, around trees and rocks, and behave exactly as they would in real life. It would be a sub-par experience if your characters walked through the middle of mountains or rocks, as it wouldn’t feel in the slightest bit realistic.
Creating a Sense of Realism in the Virtual Gaming World
GIS technology helps game designers create authentic scenery that looks exactly how it would in real life. Many games are based in actual places, Call of Duty being a good example, so the virtual world needs to look exactly as it would in the real world. GIS can help this happen.
Geographical data is taken and used to render more realistic scenery, thus enhancing the player’s experience. But that isn’t the only application for GIS in the context of gaming.
GIS Helping to Treat PTSD
GIS has been combined with gaming to create a way to help veterans returning from active combat deal with their post-traumatic stress disorder issues.
PTSD is a serious problem with veterans. An estimated 11-20% of veterans returning from active duty are suffering from some degree of PTSD, but the number is likely higher, as not all of those affected seek professional help. PTSD can ruin lives by destroying relationships and employment prospects. Because it is such a serious issue, the military is committed to helping veterans get the treatment they need.
Many veterans have problems dealing with the fallout of their psychological responses to the horrors of war. Immersive war games can help veterans play within a virtual war zone, which helps them face their problems head on. Veterans have the option to play within simple scenarios where they must problem solve, such as dealing with low supplies, language problems, and a resurgence of tribal groups.
GIS is useful for helping game developers create realistic renditions of Afghanistan or Syria, thus helping them face their fears and overcome the traumas they faced while fighting in a war zone.
GIS and Flight Simulations
GIS content has also found an application in flight simulators used to train military pilots. Real world landscape information is invaluable when training pilots. GIS is used to render realistic geography, so trainee pilots feel as if they are really sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet.
Pilots can fly their virtual jet over deserts, mountains and even realistic models of buildings. It is a much safer way of training people to fly expensive aircraft, since if they crash into the side of a mountain or skyscraper in the virtual world, nobody dies and millions of dollars’ worth of technology isn’t trashed.
It’s clear to see that GIS has a big role to play in the future of gaming, and beyond. Watch this space!