5G and its impact on gaming

By: Dibson Murakami, Ph.D. and Diablo 4 truther

VR in tennis court

Whatever your stance is on the President of the United States, you gotta give him credit for trying to help make the future of gaming shine bright. He recently tweeted that he wants to have 5G technology and even 6G technology:

Donald Trump says 5g and 6g is on the way!

The author of this article did not do the homework to understand if there was context behind this statement. Twitter doesn’t exactly offer a robust medium to give all the details. Perhaps the POTUS was just in some meetings with the technocracy and they were praising the merits of the future of tech. If nothing more than lip service and hyperbole, it is still important to understand how this tweet and the things mentioned in it are important to gaming. (Side note on 6G: while a small army of devoted scientists and engineers are probably chugging along in developing it, it is sooooo far away from being able to be enjoyed by a consumer).

What is 5G?

If you look down at your phone, which you may even be reading this article on, you’ll see probably somewhere on the home screen “4G”, and if you are fancy, “4G LTE”. The 4G translates to fourth generation, as this is the fourth iteration of the type of broadband cellular network technology your phone is using. Simply, perhaps overly simply, this is the framework for how your phone handles its interaction with the outside world: taking pictures, telephone functions, and (most relevant to the gaming discussion) data upload/download.

5G is the next big step. If you want an almost perfect gaming analogy:

NES = 1G


N64/Gamecube = 3G

WII and WIIU are 4G and 4G LTE

Switch = 5G

Ok, before you leave this boring article to go and play Fortnite, stay and learn about what 5G actually means. Luckily, there are a mess of infographics (Thanks, Nokia and Washington Post)  that make understanding 5G very easy, like this one:

What is 5G? 5G explained!

5Gaming: why gaming on 5G is going to be next level

TL:DR = all the things that gamers care about, and that contribute to a quality gaming experience when they are at home, is about to come to mobile: low latency, high data rates, on-the-go connectivity, high user density, and highly reliable and secure communications.

Latency at <=1ms? Yes, please.

Faster data transfer rates? Yes, please. For reference, 4G LTE data transfer rates are in the 10s to 100 Mbit/second range. By going to 5G, the projections are upwards of 10Gbit/second, with a stable 100Mbit/s. Say goodbye to buffering. Say goodbye to loading screens. All that is a thing of the past. You are finally in the future.

What does that enable? Well the folks over at the UK office of communications have got you covered:

What does 5G Enable?

If you read between the lines, you can be laying on a blanket with your Oculus Rift in the middle of a park, checking in on your car’s sentry mode data because, maybe you should not have parked in that dark alleyway in the shifty neighborhood...and on second thought, maybe I should not be wearing an Oculus Rift where potential thieves could see me in this robbery-prone state... Ok, so, this is not a perfect analogy, but you get the drift.

The future: Gaming on the go

It is easy to think about how the enhancements offered by 5g could enhance the current gaming environment, and those are largely mentioned above. All these things are going to be very, very important for when your roll out your hardcore singing bard in Diablo Immortal. Rumor has it that 5G was created for the explicit purpose of being able to play Diablo in hardcore-mode while on mobile. This was done with the safety of the public in mind. Can you imagine the outcome of gaming on your phone in the depths of hell fighting The Butcher or doing Baal runs when the bus you are riding in goes into a tunnel. Your phone starts to lag, and at that very same moment you see the white glistening beam of light of the last piece of the ancient legendary set you’ve been grinding to get for the last 100 hours. CONNECTION LOST! Raaaaaage as *the phone flies across the bus*. Desktop quality gaming brought to your daily commute. Stoked.

The straight performance boosts are enough to make a gamer salivate, but what is not yet fully understood is the impact that will come through the synergy of all the upgrades.

There are some estimates that suggest the number of connected devices is going to be near 10 billion by 2020. With the internet of things, augmented reality, and an increased ability to acquire/generate data the possibilities for a great application to gaming right at your fingertips. Imagine Pokemon Go with great real-time high definition graphics and better connectivity to the real and smart world around you. A digital, real world adventure awaits you… Just don’t let Jon the Non-Gamer catch you at the park with an Oculus on your head.

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