The rise of video games in the last 20 years has been swift, and now there are huge sprawling worlds in which gamers can pretty much live a separate life – at least temporarily. Titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have allowed players to get lost in a fantastical world and get to a stage where they feel like some of the NPCs are their friends. Advanced warfare games like Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain have allowed players to become elite Special Forces operatives conducting missions deep behind enemy lines. It feels like the golden age of gaming right now, but developments are continuing. What could games be like in another 20, or even 50 years?

It is an exciting year for video game fans, with numerous epic titles either already released or set to become available in the coming months. The recent God of War from SIE Santa Monica Studio is already being billed by some as a potential Game of the Year winner. The stunning open world adventure will face some stiff competition, though, with Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human now on the shelves, along with Rockstar’s Wild West sequel Red Dead Redemption 2 due for release in October. The possibilities in these games seem endless, but developers are still striving to allow players to do more.

If you went back in time and told developers of early video games about what is possible now, they probably wouldn’t believe it. In fact, showing the kids of today some of the primitive games of old would be the equivalent of showing them a spinning top. The first ever video game known to man was Bertie the Brain, which was invented by Josef Kates in 1950. This was a four-meter tall machine on which Tic-Tac-Toe could be played. At the time, this was considered a marvel of technology. This highlights just how far technology has come in a relatively short space of time.

Now, the prospect of one day being able to actually enter a game world and move around doesn’t seem out of the question. Virtual reality is the first step towards this. VR developers aim to create an immersive world in which players can look around and interact with their surroundings. As it stands, the first devices released in 2016 have yet to take off. In their first year, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive only shipped 250,000 and 420,000 units respectively.

Despite the slow start, the market is expected to boom in the next few years, with the annual revenue of AR and VR set to hit $215 billion in 2021. VR right now could be compared to early consoles where there was a lot of trial and error involved. When it takes off, surely developers will then look to making gaming even more immersive. Perhaps players will one day put on a full body suit and be able to move their arms and legs in the game world.

The journey from the early games to what is available to play now is absolutely astounding, but developers are still looking at ways to create even more amazing experiences. The possibilities for gaming in the next 50 years are endless.