Online computer and video games are often regarded as the most demanding use of an internet connection in terms of the capacity required for top games to function effectively.
However, in a recent article for UK online journal, The Telegraph, Colin Macdonald (studio manager of game developer Realtime World) explains that what governs the functionality of a top game for a gaming fanatic is not simply capacity of bandwidth, but the quality of speed.
“The big issue in our industry is the latency of a broadband connection,” he says. “In layman’s language, that’s how fast the connection is, not how thick it is. It’s the speed of response, not how much traffic you can get along a pipe, and it’s measured in milliseconds. Anything more than 100 milliseconds, or one-tenth of a second, is bad and the game can become unplayable. In turn-based games, like chess, where a player can take a minute to decide on his next move, it does not matter. But if you’re playing a fast ‘shootem- up’ game and you’re trying to shoot someone and dodge their bullets, any delay in reaction can make a huge difference because if your character has not moved in time, it may be dead.”
For obvious reasons, then, UFB is going to have some major implications for the gaming industry. Not only will loading and playing games become much smoother and faster with fewer interruptions, your performance as a player will be improved as well. High-quality fast broadband infrastructure enables much faster and much more responsive interactive online games, while the increased bandwidth on offer in UFB packages will allow a wealth of audio-visual and voice capability to be built into games.
Craig Nimmo who runs the ON3 network (a gaming community focused on improving the gaming industry, specifically in New Zealand) agrees and notes that, “with no lag time, sharper images, etc., gameplay will be substantially improved. One millisecond may not seem like much, but that millisecond can sometimes make all the difference in the competitive gaming world.”
Nimmo explains that upload/download speed is vital as well and will improve the delivery of digital content.
“If you have an average internet connection, it can take most of the night or even a couple of days to download certain games. With UFB, the download time will be reduced to an hour or so, so it will change the retail space as well.”
He goes on to say that the experience of watching games being played for review and commentary (which he does often in his line of work) will also be improved thanks to better upload speeds.
Finally, UFB will make a huge difference for people who have multiple devices connected to the internet at once. For example, if you have a couple of laptops, a desktop, a couple of game consoles, a smart TV, a tablet, all running off your home internet connection (a common scenario for flat situations or families) and perhaps one person is playing a game, one is downloading a movie, one is surfing the internet, one is on Skype, etc., there is a good chance your connection will be slowed down to the point of being unmanageable. With UFB, this will no longer be an issue.
Nimmo believes that with the introduction of UFB, the gaming industry may become a bigger part of New Zealand culture.
“Gaming has always been an important part of the culture in places like South Korea for many reasons, but the fact that they have the availability of UFB and better gaming opportunities certainly has something to do with it,” he says. “As UFB is rolled out across New Zealand, we will begin to see the gaming space change and expand into other elements we haven’t seen before. The availability of faster broadband and a better gaming experience might entice more people to get involved in gaming in New Zealand,” he adds.