New Technology: A Relative Term

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We are in the midst of an unparalleled age of advancement as a species. The human species isn’t evolving based on biological factors anymore: technological innovations continue to drive us forward, creating new opportunities around the world. Not only are we building with technology, but we’re doing so at an unprecedented rate.

As explained to Vox, the fact that the World Wide Web took around 20 to 25 years to fully take hold is incredible seeing how much it has completely changed human life, while telephones took decades. However, unlike in the world of business – which is the predominant driving force behind modern technological developments – a new piece of tech coming to light doesn’t always simply replace what came before. Sometimes, new technology isn’t anything new, more a meeting of the new with the old.

Ever-adapting technology giving old tech a new lease

Many imagine robots with the capability to learn when artificial intelligence is brought up, but most AI is a computer program.

Technology is increasingly dictating how we go about our everyday lives. Even just 15 years ago, even though mobile phones were widespread, they were purely for communications, ringtones, and the odd mini-game. Now, they have developed to the point where their functionality rivals or exceeds that of older computer models. Smartphones alone allow us quick and convenient access to communications, information, photography, games, work, language learning, and so much more.

Artificial intelligence is being heralded as the next massive leap in technological advancement. In theory, polished AI will gather, learn, and adapt to information far faster than a human possibly could, optimising operations and practices. Its potential applications are incredible, so much so that the European Commission has seen it necessary to ensure that human oversight and transparency is present wherever AI technology goes. After AI, bioengineering technologies may be the next step of tech-driven human evolution.

Despite all of these rapid advancements, not all forms of older technologies are cast aside when something new comes along. Particularly in the sphere of entertainment, many products considered to be ‘old tech’ have seen the evolution of technology as an opportunity to survive by making slight adaptations.

As such, what is often presented as new technology sometimes isn’t new at all, instead, it is a showcase of old technology upgrading to the new environment. New tech usually meets old in several sectors, as shown by the likes of VPNs and pagers, but its most prominently displayed in the diverse scene of gaming.

Despite rapid evolution, the old is still relevant

A familiar line for all who have played classic arcade games.

The tech-driven entertainment sector of gaming isn’t any different from other technological industries. Over the last 40 years, digital gaming has evolved tremendously, withstanding machines once only suited to dedicated halls becoming accessible at home, and then, on the go. Arcade, home console, PC, handheld console, browser-based, and mobile gaming have all developed the quality of their games over the last few decades.

Now, on the cusp of the next, much-hyped console generation, it’s clear to see that there’s still value in older gaming tech. Even though new releases like Ghost of Tsushima, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, and The Witcher III (on the Nintendo Switch) are utilising much of the best that gaming technology has to offer and pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible, there’s still a place for the classics.

Remastering an old console game for a new console is a well-worn path by this point, with storied franchises such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro seeing their classic titles be re-released with superior graphics and refined controls. Still, it’s many of the true classics of digital gaming which are still proving to be entertaining even in the modern expansive space.

On the Nintendo Switch alone, you can find over 120 games in the Hamster range of Arcade Archives including Punch-Out!!, Road Fighter, Mario Bros., Kangaroo, Frogger, Tecmo Bowl, Earth Defense Force, Donkey Kong, and Contra. Mobile devices also feature several of these once machine-bound creations. MAME4droid is the big one. It’s an Android mobile app that works as an arcade machine emulator, supporting over 8,000 ROMs.

The annual EA Sports games may make the headlines, but people on the latest Nintendo console still enjoy the classic arcade sports games, like Tecmo Bowl.

While its origins aren’t technologically-driven by any means, solitaire in its digital form has become a defining piece of software for Microsoft computers. In 1990, Windows 3.0 was released with Microsoft Solitaire installed, which sometimes went under the name of ‘Patience.’

This digital form of a centuries-old card game was introduced to Microsoft computers to teach people how to use the computer mouse’s functions. This year, the game turned 30-years-old, with Microsoft declaring that it still commands over 35 million players per month around the world, despite it not being needed for its original function anymore.

In a kind of combination between the long-standing arcade game machines and the segue of a classic card game into a functional computer learning tool, another form of old gaming tech that’s been adapted to modern technology is that of the slot machine. 

With the internet becoming a truly global entity, game developers saw an opportunity. In the early 1990s, the first real-money online slot was born. Since then, slots have become the face of online casinos. The ability for developers to quickly react to trends and offer an evolving range of themes and features has seen the selection of real money slot machines explode. Original slot machines were limited to the designs they were shipped with, and there wasn’t a tremendous amount of variety in themes, let alone features and gameplay mechanics, in standing slots.

The first slot machine, as we know them today, was created in the late 19th Century, between 1887 and 1895, and it has remained a mainstay of the casino floor to this day. These slots were admittedly a little more simplistic in design compared to what we have today. Especially considering the amount of available choice there is with online slots, with many having different graphics and themes applied to them.

Now, themes are key attributes to online slots, with branded games like Narcos and Michael Jackson: King of Pop being just as eye-catching as those that span the hundreds of other set-ups, such as Cleopatra, Bonanza, Wolf Gold, and Eye of Horus.

It’s the job of companies to pedal their goods like the latest and greatest, but even in the world of entertainment, where trends are always changing, a lot of new tech meets successful tech of the past.

Tech Digest Correspondent