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The rise of open-world gaming

From GTA to Assassin’s Creed, open-world gaming has evolved massively over the past ten years. Today, the way we game has transformed, but just how did the open-world game develop?

Gaming has recently undergone something of a revolution. With the advent of ever-more sophisticated technologies and software making it onto the market- including potentially game-changing products like Augmented and Virtual Reality- gamemakers are finding it ever easier to create detailed worlds for players to explore. The end result? Open-world games have conquered the gaming market.

What is open world gaming?

Open-world games provide gamers with a completely immersive experience, where they can play inside a ‘game-world’: whilst completing the game’s main storyline, they can also explore, do side-quests and take their time. The purpose of playing, unlike ‘linear’ games where the player progresses through a series of levels is not only to complete the game’s story objectives; instead, they can have fun just by interacting with the world around them.

Despite the complexity of the software required to play an open-world game, it first became truly popular in 2001 after the release of the barnstorming Grand Theft Auto III. Once technology began to catch up- with the release of consoles like the PlayStation 4 and xBox 360- these games began to take off, with Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim and Oblivion becoming the gaming equivalent of household names. Today, open-world games are by far the most popular medium, eclipsing linear games and bringing in up to $99.6bn in revenues worldwide.

What makes a good open-world game?

An open world game does not an instant bestseller make, and some games have performed appallingly despite making the switch from linear to open play: Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst being one example. Gamers are increasingly on the hunt for a game which feels fresh: it’s no good having great graphics if the story itself feels bland and dull. An open-world game is something a person has to want to invest considerable time into playing, and if it’s something you’ve done before then what’s the point in buying it? Furthermore, the story has to be something you want to invest in- take Bioshock: Infinite as an example.

And of course, it needs to feel rich and lived-in. There’s no point exploring a world if there’s nothing to explore- and the recently-released Dishonoured 2, with its multiple settings, people you can interact with and in-game consequences, where your actions affect the way in which the game is going to end.

What’s the future for open world gaming?

As technology advances, expect open-world gaming to consolidate its position within the market; with the advent of virtual reality, games will likely become even more immersive, allowing viewers to explore worlds like never before. Worlds will become bigger, and side-quests will become a more important aspect of the game. Developers are putting more of an effort into emergence, and letting players create and tell their own stories, rather than linear storylines.

Want to get involved?  

If you want to keep up with the latest events, try getting involved in the local gaming scene- get involved with issues like the Tentacle Collective, which is happening soon, or signing up to a developer recruitment agency.

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