Voices from the “2022 International Gametech Webinar”
Game technology has become an important concept in the digital economy. From Microsoft’s announcement of its intent to acquire video game giant Blizzard in January 2022, to the recent resolution on esports and video games adopted by the European Parliament on 10 November 2022, it is clear that the economic, cultural and technological value of games is being recognized in an increasing number of countries.
Being at the intersection of culture and technology, game technology has the potential to bring new opportunities to various industries and influence the global innovation landscape. On December 16, the “2022 International Gametech webinar” co-hosted by ChinaEU and the UNESCO International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences Chair Office brought together international experts and scholars to exchange their in-depth views on how gametech brings about innovations across different sectors.
Games are not just entertainment, but also about technology
Game technology has long been overlooked because the inherent entertainment value of games has overshadowed their underlying scientific and technological significance. In fact, game technology is a collection of functional technologies that were first implemented at a large scale in video games, with the goal of enriching and enhancing the experience of human interaction. Featuring high levels of interactivity, simulation, immersion, and advanced rendering, game technology has been increasingly utilized in a variety of fields such as digital preservation of cultural heritage, industrial simulation, smart cities, and intelligent manufacturing. Game technology is therefore gradually gaining recognition as a powerful tool to promote the integration of the digital space and the real world.
“The spillover effect of video games on cutting-edge technological progress is far beyond our imagination. Game technology is a ‘natural incubator’ for many emerging technological innovations.” Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU, described how video games have promoted the development of AR/VR technology and the application of artificial intelligence technology.
“The rise of gametech is an economic phenomenon, and it is also a trend driven by cultural and technological factors that cannot be ignored. The global academic community must realize that games and game technology are very important interdisciplinary topics,” said Hsiung Ping-Chen, Secretary-General of the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH).
The game industry has a history of being at the forefront of adopting new technologies. KooPee Hiltunen, Director of Neogames Finland Association-Finnish National Center of Game Business, Research and Education, and Founder and Board Member of the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) noted that the game industry has always been among the first ones to apply these advanced emerging technologies. The game industry plays a key role in the popularization of such technology. It uses technology to create meaningful content and therefore becomes one of the most advanced presentations in the field of human-computer or human-device interaction. In the future, the game industry will continue to be a leader in introducing new technologies to the general public in a way that is easily understood and accessible.
LIU Feng, a Researcher at the Research Center on Fictitious Economy & Data Science of China Academy of Sciences, believes that there has been a close relationship between gametech and artificial intelligence from their inception, and gametech also has a strong traction effect on the development of artificial intelligence. Applications of gametech in biology, cultural relics protection, and autonomous driving are leading the way in the exploration of artificial intelligence.
Gametech can break down boundaries and create more possibilities for cross-sector cooperation
The European Parliament pointed out that the total value of the European game industry is as high as 23.3 billion euros in 2021. There are nearly 5,000 game studios in the EU, creating at least 98,000 jobs in 2020. Games have become an important part of cultural life for approximately half of European citizens. In addition, gametech has made significant contributions to the advancement of various industries. According to the report “Game Technology-New Technology Clusters in the Process of Digital and Real Economy Integration” released by the China Academy of Sciences in July 2022, game technology has approximately contributed 14.9%, 46.3%, and 71.6% to the technological advancement of the chip industry, high-speed communication network industry, and the AR/VR industry in China, respectively.
“We live in a global world which is getting smaller and closer. One of the best ways to create global communities is through digital media. A very important type of digital media is video games, many of which are played around the world. This is sometimes what I call the most potent marketing tool. In the future, it is our goal to enable technology to reach consumers in a more meaningful way.” KooPee Hiltunen said.
In fact, there are many opportunities for symbiosis between different industries and different technologies. Gianfranco Ciccarella, Senior Advisor on Communication Networks and Services, believes that “to enable these opportunities it is necessary to break through the services performance limitations we still have over the Internet. Very High Capacity Networks (VHCN) able to provide services not yet available, such as 360 degrees augmented reality, are needed to support game technology and global innovation. VHCN require significant changes in the Telcos networks and one of the most important changes, to provide services performance improvement and network cost savings, is the deployment of Edge Cloud Computing platforms in the access networks”.
“The video game industry has a positive spillover effect on the semiconductor and telecommunications industries. 5G networks and IoT infrastructure are very important basic conditions for the video game industry, including economic development.” LUO Rong, Professor of the School of Economics at the Renmin University of China, believes.
There are many technologies enabling the development of video games, with AI being one of the most prominent. The cross-field application of gametech is critical for the integration of digital and real economies. ZHAO Xiaolei, Director of Investment and Technology Promotion Shanghai Office at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, believes that “digital factories are a new way of organizing production. Digital-twin technology can be used to apply game engines and other technologies to program simulation, evaluation, and optimization of the entire product life cycle, which can be applied to the deep convergence of physical and cloud-based data pools, smart factories, and digitally integrated production facilities.”
Gametech has many versatile applications, including in the fields of medicine and psychotherapy. Marco Accordi Rickards, Executive Director and Founder of Vigamus Foundation, Board Member of the European Federation of Video Game Archives, Museums and Preservation Projects (EFGAMP), elaborated on how games can help in an important and pragmatic way in our lives. For example, some research uses VR technology to reproduce some situations that can help people overcome some traumatic experiences that they suffered.
The team of Marco Accordi Rickards recently developed a game called ‘Behind the Light’, which allows everyone to understand the importance of restoring, repairing, and preserving classic ancient Italian movies, so that young people can develop an interest in the old black and white silent movies, and at the same time let everyone know about these important figures in Italian film history. His team is also using gametech to preserve cultural heritage, and is working with scientists to advance scientific research.
The Esports industry is a very important pillar and driving force for innovation. “Esports can bring young people on board with important topics like programming and information technology, learn how to communicate with different cultures and teamwork through games, and even affect their future career development. At the same time, it can help some universities attract young talents” said Karol Cagáň, Vice President of the European Esports Federation, describing the belief that Esports and people’s lives will be more closely linked, and Esports will not only be a profession, but will also become more integrated into people’s lives and education, cultivating skills that will develop into more interactive careers and industries. Tobias Scholz, Chair of the Esports Research Network, and Assistant Professor of the University of Siegen, added that “learning and mastering skills through esports is nothing new, but the world becomes more digital, so these skills are game changers. People learn how to cooperate with each other by playing video games. When we try to understand esports and its industry, it also helps us understand how the digital world works”.
The EU accelerates gametech and promotes the new development of the global game industry
In the recent resolution of the European Parliament, video games are described as “complex creative works”, which combine various artistic techniques with innovative technologies to form a cross-sectoral medium; video games possess strong innovation value and great potential in popularizing science and lifelong learning education, and can encourage a new generation of Europeans to pursue their careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths). The resolution passed by the European Parliament makes us think more seriously about the future development of the game industry.
At the webinar, experts and industry practitioners called on the international community to explore further cooperation on gametech. Luigi Gambardella believes that “both Europe and China have played a vital role in promoting cross-sector innovation through gametech. China and Europe should cooperate to explore the opportunities and challenges in the field of gametech innovation.” Hsiung Ping-Chen, said, “Only when everyone continues to play and share an entertaining and joyful world, then we can have the opportunity to continue to develop.”
One of the major challenges right now is making video games accessible to everyone. Tobias Scholz explained, “the resolution of the European Parliament on esports and video games draws the attention of the member states to the importance of this industry, stimulates the discussion and further promotes the growth of the industry.” “In the esports industry, China is already a very big player. China has the world’s largest ecosystem in terms of hardware manufacturing and application, and I very much hope to cooperate with China to explore future cooperation opportunities.” Karol Cagáň said.
The game industry is a global industry. Conflicting regulations in different jurisdictions will make compliance hard for game businesses to operate in multiple jurisdictions. KooPee Hiltunen warned that we should be very careful when adapting new kinds of regulations because we have to take care of all regulations already existing at the global level. And if this would lead to confrontation between regulations inside the EU, that would not make game businesses any easier.
Gametech can bridge the cultural differences between China and Europe, thereby offering a message of unity. Marco Accordi Rickards explained, “China and Europe are two areas of the world that possess ancient and splendid civilizations. The interactive language in games makes it easier for young people to learn and accept, and therefore communicate across cultures. It’s a truly important opportunity for Europe and China to work together and use gametech to present each other with different cultural histories and beautiful cultural heritage to enhance mutual understanding .”