Our gamified future

A window into 2030 gaming and its influence on industry and society

A woman interacts with an immersive augmented reality screen, while a young boy feeds a digital Shunosaurus.
An introduction to the article: 'Our gamified future' thumbnail

A disease is devastating the earth. Humanity is at risk of extinction, and you are its last hope. Ancient flora is thought to be the key – travel back 65 million years to a prehistoric world to unlock the cure. Beware, you’re not alone. Terrifying historic predators roam. How long can you survive?

Imagine that you’re experiencing this through a hyper-realistic game on an advanced virtual reality (VR) headset with a quality far surpassing today's most sophisticated games. By 2030, such truly immersive extended reality (XR) experiences are expected to become the norm, accelerating gaming technology's profound influence on people, society, and even industry.

A woman crouches in a forest and studies an artificial dodo, woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros, touching on how the future of gaming can enable new technological developments.

Take education, for example: Through the advancement of augmented reality (AR) technology and spatial mapping, digital worlds will be embedded in physical reality. On a field trip to the Roman Colosseum, children might see and hear it as it was 1,950 years ago. With rich, interactive experiences like this, it will be possible to improve student engagement in a world where attention spans are increasingly hard to hold.

In industry, gamified employee training will improve the absorption of information, developing more effective and competent workforces. Factory workers might learn the working parts of a car from a digital twin in the form of a game before working on the real thing, allowing consequence-free mistakes and progression-based research and development.

A woman with an upright exercise bike standing back-to-back with a cloud gaming animated twin avatar with a hoverbike.

What is the future of gaming?

Gaming will be everywhere and will include everyone. Games will become centered around more active spatial XR experiences – encouraging more movement and interaction while boosting immersion. Barriers to collaboration will disappear, bridging gaps between people globally who may not have otherwise had the chance to meet.

Why will the advancement of technology be essential to the evolution of gaming?

Connectivity is at the heart of gaming, be it a powerful, seamless network connection or improved communication between people. Cloud gaming will unlock gaming in real time, reducing the need for downloading and storage, and enabling gamers to do more of what they love, wherever they wish to do it.

How will we make our 2030 vision a reality?

Bringing the 2030 vision to life will rely on a vast array of network advancements, including increased bandwidth, minimal latency, and an adaptive Network Compute Fabric. These capabilities will ensure the most optimal usage of network resources, while we see a move away from graphic user interfaces (GUIs) toward natural user interfaces (NUIs).

Gaming: An expanding definition

It’s important to define “gaming” and what it means to be a “gamer.” Many believe that the key ingredient of gaming is interactivity, and this is what separates it from conventional video-based entertainment like television or movies. With gaming, an active role is taken on by the participant, as opposed to a passive one.

With today’s gaming as varied as it is, most people game in one way or another – whether they know it or not!

With today’s gaming as varied as it is, most people game in one way or another – whether they know it or not!

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An interactive animated avatar of a man exploring cloud gaming, how many people are gaming and what immersive devices are being used.

Gaming’s influence on our everyday lives

Gaming’s influence is already far-reaching, from business and education to sustainability and healthcare. For example, language learning apps and fitness-based smart watches use gamified features including point-based tests, personal bests, achievement badges and trophies.

Eric Blomquist and Michael Björn discuss 'our gamified future' thumbnail

The technology used for gaming is also widely applied to non-gaming use cases. Low-latency computing developed for gaming is being used to run factories of robots from hundreds of miles away in real time. There is a production facility deep in the Ecuadorian jungle as well as a uranium mine in northern Canada that employ this technology to perform real-time commands, removing the need for workforces to be stationed in extremely remote locations. In the case of emergencies, snap decisions can be executed immediately, saving time, money and lives.

Games like Niantic’s Pokémon GO have already dragged gaming from its previously sedentary existence by taking gamers outside into the real world to see our planet populated by Pokémon. The hunt was on as millions around the globe picked up their phones and joined the quest to “catch ‘em all.” Niantic’s AR-based game boosts social interaction, mental health and general fitness along the way. It’s game experiences like this that are changing the definition (and demographic) of “gamers.”

The user benefits of gaming

“We encourage people to get out and exercise, explore the world around them and also interact with their community in real-world environments.”

Sarah Gilarsky
Head of Telco Partnerships, Niantic

Games are also being used for the greater good. The creators of Minecraft have, with the help of Ericsson, teamed up with the United Nations to work on in-game building that replicates in the real world. The UN has used this technology to map and design building work across the globe in areas damaged by natural disasters or war. This could speed up the process of building planning, providing relief to those who need it quicker and more effectively.

Gaming has long helped with therapy and rehabilitation efforts. Nintendo devices have helped the elderly with “brain training” games that boost memory, focus and mental sharpness with fantastic results. Its Wii console has also helped those requiring physical rehab after an accident or surgery to re-gain motor skills.

More generally, greater awareness is being generated around sustainability goals through gamification. A variety of companies (such as Ecologi and Ecosia) utilize leaderboards, badges and challenges to trigger people’s competitiveness and keep them recycling, planting trees and reducing their carbon footprints.

An animated graphic of a gamified house, garden and swimming pool, exploring the future of gaming.

Overcoming barriers to achieve 2030’s gaming goals

In order to achieve gaming’s 2030 goals, there are challenges to overcome, and the first is technological. At present, the network is able to support the vast amounts of data being uploaded and downloaded to and from a myriad of devices. But as we advance towards 2030, there will be greater demand for high-quality, secure connectivity, as well as the need for low latency and high bandwidth to facilitate the amount of data and edge computing involved in the games of the future.

With over five million monthly downloads of apps built using its software, Unity is the world’s leading platform for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content. Its mission is to give anyone the opportunity and the power to create innovative RT3D experiences.

Unity sees a future where gaming and connectivity technology is ubiquitous and accessible, with everyone from your grandmother to your four-year-old son using technology originally built for gaming. These imperative, persistent, social and realistic experiences will be picked up and used by anyone, easily – from e-commerce training to smart facilities. But it’s that low latency and high bandwidth over a trusted platform which is required to make it happen.

A digital projection of a street using an augmented reality overlay that showcases the possibilities in the future of gaming and what immersive gaming in 2030 could be like.

“People are able to tell their stories like never before.”

Callan Carpenter
VP of Digital Twin Solutions, Unity

Secondly, there is a need for breakout devices. VR and AR technologies are still considered niche and found primarily among early adopters. VR headsets face another issue when it comes to mainstream uptake – they’re bulky and suffer from poor battery life.

A further issue is that a social stigma attached to gaming still exists – the idea that gamers are isolated, reclusive, “nerdy” and that gaming is unproductive. But today, almost everyone is a gamer, and it’s important to remember that games can also get us moving.

Game development company, HADO, has ventured into the gap in the market which fuses physical sport with esport to address the growing concern about the lack of movement from today’s young people. HADO, an AR-based techno-sport, sees players on a real-world court competing in a physically demanding game of virtual dodgeball. At the game’s core, fun and engagement come first, and fitness naturally follows. To level up, improved location technology to enhance the game experience is a key area that Ericsson technologies can help drive forward. 

When playing in a virtual setting, strength and size suddenly matter much less. HADO have created a space that is accessible to all including those with visual impairment or amputations. Recently, the company set up a tournament between two schools in Birmingham in the UK, where one team were made up of special educational needs (SEN) students, who held their own on the court and played at the same level as their opposition.

A man wearing a virtual reality headset playing an immersive sport while crouching behind a digitalized shield.

“We want to see HADO offered at school as one of the main PE options alongside football, gymnastics and basketball because we know just how incredibly engaging it is.” 

Jim Sephton
Managing Director, HADO

The journey is evolving

Ericsson is tackling the technological challenges head-on with insights from consumers and game developers. Alongside the development of the network, the way we use gaming devices is set to improve as we transition from GUIs to NUIs – natural human abilities will control technology as opposed to artificial devices. This will enable the inclusion of more people as buttons and joysticks become a thing of the past, and multi-sensory experiences with gesture and voice control become commonplace. Immersion will increase through the mainstream adoption of haptic feedback suits.

A woman looking at immersive digital waves with message and folder icons behind her, predicting what gaming in 2030 could achieve.
A man sits on a bean bag in the middle of an immersive ice hockey goal on an ice rink with an augmented reality display in front of him, depicting the future of gaming.

The rise of esports has led to an increase of gaming spectators watching via broadcasters like Twitch or Huya. This has amassed huge numbers of fans all around the world, and players and fans can interact with one another, driving deeper engagement.

Game development company, Tension, produces interactive experiences that merge with real-life events. For example, you can watch a live hockey match from your chosen camera angle, see real-time player stats, and rewind key action points to analyze from different perspectives, all within a real-time 3D game. Making traditionally passive entertainment viewing, like live sports events and cinema, active through the adoption of gamified technology is a key area of focus ahead of 2030.

I want to be my own director… I want gaming to open up so the fans or the players can do what they want, when they want to do it.”

Magnus Björkman
Co-founder and CEO, Tension

Ericsson is focused on increasing bandwidth – enabling more uploads and downloads to take place – and reducing latency to ensure real-time interactions are smooth and accurate. Its Network Compute Fabric (NCF) is evolving beyond edge computing to create a symbiotic relationship between connectivity and computing capabilities. This will enable the mutual growth of an interconnected system in which gaming can thrive, with a network that is flexible and scalable, adapting to the instant needs of the application in real time. Alongside this, with games becoming more integrated into daily life, user security and privacy become more prevalent, and this is something that Ericsson is focused on delivering while maintaining data integrity.

Progressing to the next checkpoint

When we talk about connectivity, we understand the importance of the technological advancement, but we also see the importance of improving connectivity between people.

As technologies such as the NCF evolves further, we will see a deeper connection forming between gaming, network technology and people – a move toward truly limitless connectivity. With the improvement and mainstream rollout of XR technology, gaming will become far more accessible, enabling people to connect to whatever, wherever they are.

This “borderless” world of connectivity will have a far-reaching impact, enabling faster, more efficient advancement in business and personal lives. What could be more impactful than bringing people together? Parents can solve real-world issues and children can explore the prehistoric world, from wherever they wish. Or imagine hyper-realistic AR being utilized to help a student in a coffee shop obtain real-time coaching to support their engineering internship. Behind them, a young couple appear to swipe in front of their faces, virtually browsing holiday destinations. This will all be possible through the advancement of gaming technology.

With the achievements of game developers and network providers like Ericsson, gaming is well and truly mainstream. This, with the addition of improved gaming devices such as lighter, lower-profile XR glasses and NUI-based input devices, will bring people together and improve users’ everyday lives.

With everything that the future of gaming has to offer, how will you play in 2030?

A digital graphic of a pink brain with circle-tipped straight lines dotted across it signifying cloud gaming and its impact on the future of gaming.

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