Sports are an integral part of human life and are easily one of the most prominent aspects of human life. Not only are they day-to-day activities but they also heavily define cultures. One of the areas where this can be seen is in the world of video games. The first-ever video sports game was invented way back in 1958. This was, in fact, the very first video game ever built which goes to show just how much of a big deal sports are.
“Why?” you may ask.
Well, as fun as sports may be, not everyone can participate in those activities for various reasons. These may range from physical limitations to limited access to resources such as playing fields and equipment. As such, video games opened the doors for everyone to take part in their favorite sports and since then it has only been getting better.
As their name suggests, video games are highly dependent on display and graphics technologies. The evolutions and advancement of these technologies are responsible for all of the amazing products that gamers are now able to enjoy. In this article, we are going to take a bit of a deep dive into the evolution of sports games’ graphics.
How It All Started
To truly appreciate how far the industry has come, we have to go back to the very beginning. Tennis for Two, the very first video game and video sports game that I mentioned earlier, kicked things off. What players saw in this game were the original video game graphics and they were not much different from the language or imagery that we often see on blogs and apps.
As expected, due to the limitation of the technology of the time, the original video game was 2-dimensional (2D) and pretty simple, to say the least. As a matter of fact, it was more of a hobbyist project that was used for nothing more than entertaining the guests of the laboratory where the game was developed. It turned out to be much more than that.
Tennis for Two took the world by storm in the years that followed its release thus setting off the growth of what would become one of the biggest industries of all time.
Arcade Games, Consoles, and PC Gaming
Aside from the actual invention of video games, one of the other things that greatly defined the evolution of sports games is advancements in computing technologies which eventually led to the development of gaming machines. It all began with arcades that had 2D sports games like Sega’s Grand Prix and Taito’s Crown Soccer Special.
Taito and Sega received a lot of praise for these games which pushed them to double down on their efforts to produce more of these amazing games. Taito went to launch Davis Cup and a Soccer, two-payer football game that had scrolling 2D graphics. Sega pushed things even further by going on to launch the first 2.5-dimension (2.5D) sports game. This was a racing game known as Moto-Cross which is still quite popular even today.
By this time, gamers who were sports fans were already being treated to video games inspired by football, bowling, baseball, and even basketball – still, no one would have imagined that the sector was about to grow as big as it did after that.
3D and Modern Sports Games
As consoles, arcade machines, and personal computers continued to grow more powerful in the 80s and 90s it became pretty clear that the industry was here to stay. More game developers were getting into the sector and this spawned even more innovation which eventually led to the rise of 3D graphics in video games.
3D graphics made sports-inspired video games even more popular. Also, thanks to the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), game developers were able to fully leverage the increasingly powerful hardware that device manufacturers were now churning out.
Electronic Arts’ (EA) FIFA soccer games, for instance, ushered in the era of the modern consoles – PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo. PCs were also not left behind. Since then, things have gotten much better as can be seen from the life-like sports games that are played all around the world.
3D sports games have become such a big deal that there are now even tournaments and gaming events akin to those of actual sporting activities. Referred to as esports, these activities have taken gaming to a whole new level. In the United States, even sports betting sites located offshore give the same amount of attention as regular sporting events. There are even sites that are dedicated to nothing but esports.
Enter Virtual Reality (VR)
Once it became clear that 3D graphics in sports games was just a stepping stone into the next big thing, we have seen lots of new and innovative technologies come up and we can even see the development of casino sites dedicated to VR experiences with kits to fit the players especially for that type of gameplay. Over the past few years, Virtual Reality has been all the buzz thanks primarily to its potential to take the video gaming experience to the next level.
Already, modern consoles and computers have found ways of incorporating the technology. VR sports games such as Rec Room, The Climb, Box VR, Racket: Nx, and the Golf Club VR are just a few of the ones that I can mention off the top of my head. The library of such games is growing pretty fast.
Now, just like 3D was the stepping stone for virtual reality, VR also seems to be opening doors for other even more exciting developments and innovations. Often mentioned alongside VR is Augmented Reality (AR) which utilizes many of the same principles. There is also extended reality which is showing a lot of promise. The progress in the sector is pretty impressive, to say the least, which goes to show how open the gaming industry and the gamers, in general, are to innovative developments.
If anything, history has proven time and time again that sports and technology will continue to advance. The convergence and integration of the two has always been mind-blowing which means there is still so much more to look forward to.