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joystick iconThe more we play video games, the more we find new ways to appreciate the digital worlds created by game developers. Americans have dived head first into new gaming tech, with the ESA reporting the average gamer invests more time in gaming today and 50 percent less time watching television and movies than they did three years ago. The difference between gaming of today and tomorrow is bigger than just pixels and voice recording, however. What types of new technology will spur a gaming revolution in the next few years?

Artificial Reality

No longer a fantasy of the Star Trek holodeck, artificial reality will arrive in our living rooms in the very near future. Courtesy of the Oculus Rift, gamers can now immerse themselves in the worlds of their joysticks and keyboards rather than experiencing them only on a flat screen. The Oculus Rift won the Best of CES 2014 for its Crystal Cove prototype, which has cut down on the blur and added new sensors to enhance the experience of living in a virtual world. The Rift may take another two to three years to hit shelves, but will change gaming forever by allowing users to see the world of a game like Skyrim expand all around them. The next step for the Rift is to allow users to interact with the environment as they would in real life, bending down to pick upobjects or reaching back to draw a sword Photo of Oculus Rift by Sebastian Stabinger via Wikimedia Commons

Cloud Gaming

As more televisions become smart TVs and more games become available for digital download, consoles themselves may become obsolete. It’s anyone’s guess when this will happen, but Playstation Now is pushing the envelope by allowing users to engage in cloud-based gaming without the need for physical hard drives. With a cloud connection, users can play a first person shooters like Battlefield 4 without a disc. If they have a smart television they can play BF4 without a Playstation itself. With a cloud connection, furthermore, Battlefield players can save their statistics anywhere and check their class information, kill/death ratio, and global ranking on a mobile.

Steam Machines

PC gamers enjoy many advantages that console gamers do not, including far better graphics and frame rate along with a litany of exclusive titles. Yet one negative factor for PC gamers involves the cost of their hobby, with a gaming rig costing several hundred dollars at minimum and as much as several thousand dollars to put together a top-of-the-line computer. That may change thanks to Steam Machines, an affordable gaming PC that you can attach to your 60 inch HD television. Despite the handheld controls and the television connection, the Steam Machine isn’t a console per se, since you con only play PC games that fit the specs and the controller corresponds to the movement of mouse and keyboard rather than joysticks and buttons. Photo by Sergey Galyonkin via Flickr

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