Latest trends on display at Game Developers Conference

Many of the programmers, animators, artists and engineers who help make the world’s most popular video games 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 pre-pandemic times in 2019.

Gaming industry revenue came back down to earth last year after skyrocketing in the early years of the pandemic, when most people were long stuck indoors looking for new entertainment options to take home. At GDC, developers could try the latest in sound design, motion capture technology and hyper-realistic graphics

While virtual reality has been a staple at many previous GDC events, this year the technology was ubiquitous, with new VR devices and titles featured throughout the exhibition space. Also garnering attention was the success of the critically acclaimed HBO series The Last of Us, a zombie-esque show based on the award-winning video game of the same name. Industry experts say it shows the power of video game storytelling and say we’ll likely see more popular games adapted into movies and shows in the near future.

While the big studios like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo were there mainly to recruit new talent, smaller independent studios also got a chance to share the spotlight. Korean startup PNI Co. introduced its new Valeg VR motion simulator. Gamers sit on the stool-like controller and rotate their feet 360 degrees while wearing a headset.

The startup claims the device will help reduce the motion sickness that many people experience when using VR. Another startup introduced 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.

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WOWCUBE has several preloaded games that bring classic games like Pac Man and Space Invaders to a third dimension as users rotate and flip the cube while playing. Robots and artificial intelligence were also presented at the conference. A robotic cat named Nushi, created by a Hollywood creature artist, can “learn” music and come up with original dance routines.

The creator says Nushi aims to show that the future of robotics and AI doesn’t have to be utopian and scary, it can be whimsical and fun. More than 24,000 people attended GDC this week.


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