Many of the programmers, animators, artists and engineers who help produce the most popular video games around the world converged in San Francisco this week. It’s the largest gathering of industry insiders at the annual Game Developers Conference. It was the event’s first all-in person GDC since before the pandemic in 2019.
Game industry revenues came back down to Earth last year after spiking during the first years of the pandemic, when most people where stuck inside for long periods of time and looking for new home entertainment. At GDC, developers got to try out the latest in sound design, motion capture technology and hyper-realistic graphics
While virtual reality has been a fixture in many previous GDC events, this year, the technology was ubiquitous, with new VR devices and titles shown off all over the expo floor. A buzz was also in the air about the success of the critically-acclaimed HBO series “The Last of Us,” a zombie-like show adapted from an award-winning video game of the same name. Industry experts say it shows the power of video game storytelling and say we’re likely to see more popular games turned into movies and shows in the near future.
While the big studios, like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, were mainly on hand to recruit new talent, smaller independent studios also got a chance to share the spotlight.Korean startup PNI Co. unveiled its new Valeg VR motion simulator. Gamers sit on the stool-like controller and use their feet to turn 360 degrees while wearing a headset.
The startup claims the device helps reduce the motion sickness many people experience when using VR. Another startup unveiled a brand new gaming platform called “WOWCUBE.” The innovative device looks like a Rubik’s cube but with tiny high resolution screens on each square.
WOWCUBE has several games pre-installed, taking classic games like Pac Man and Space Invaders into a third dimension as users twist and turn the cube while playing. Robots and artificial intelligence were also featured at the conference. A robotic cat called Nushi, crafted by a Hollywood creature artist, can “learn” music and come up with original dance routines.
The creator says Nushi is meant to show that the future of robotics and AI doesn’t have to be utopian and scary but can also be whimsical and fun. More than 24 thousand people attended GDC this week.