Five Cutting-Edge Game Mechanics That Will Dominate Gaming

From VR/AR networking to ad-hoc online sessions, we will explore what will define the next generation of games.

The year of 2020 has brought on its many challenges, including a global pandemic, and has re-shaped society in the process. In the same vein, games and gamers have changed to adapt to social distancing and staying home, by shifting their focus to networked gaming and Discord communication. In time, the next wave of games released in 2021 and beyond will more greatly align to these changes, and integrate them into gameplay itself.

There is a large swath of APIs, methodologies and technology that can be used to level up gaming experiences to better match the social climate. Below we discuss a few options and their respective game mechanic applications.

1. Twitch & Stream Integration

  • Twitch API Integration — More and more gamers are turning to streams to see how content creators play their favorite games. “Among Us” gathers hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch, when it is a game meant to be played with groups of friends. Twitch Integration can give viewers a chance to participate in the game through their viewership, comments, and can either support their streamer or provide roadblocks for them. Either way it makes the game much more interesting!
  • YouTube Presence In-game — Giving YouTubers the opportunity to bring their persona to life within the game is an appealing mechanic waiting to be utilized. With an API integration they can bring subscriber count to bare as an in-game stat, or pull in comments or channel logo for some great antics.

2. Ad-Hoc Multiplayer

  • Swap in-out players on the fly — Everyone is familiar with the concept of the MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The model can be considered antiquated, most games of this nature require a thick client connecting to a network layer that can support networked data packets for 100s of players. Smaller scale networked games should take advantage of a more flexible approach that uses rooms and sessions, but swaps players between sessions based on where they travel in the world. This way players can participate in a thriving active world without all the overhead.
  • Large scale endless PvP and Raids — Gamers familiar with Player vs Player (PvP) games know these are quick sessions of intense battle between groups of players to see who has the best skills. With an ad-hoc approach, however, you can keep a PvP or Raid battle going while players join and leave the battle at will. Imagine a guild war that rages on for weeks, with peaks and lulls, story arcs and dramatic conclusions. These kinds of narratives can play out more easily if players can transiently come and go from battles.

3. VR / AR Networked Experiences

  • Commonplace games like VRChat — There will come a day when VRChat is a category moreso than a single game. Large groups coming together to play and socialize in the skin of a virtual avatar ahs always sounded like something from the distant future. But bigger games like VRChat, with more depth of mechanics (think MMO game, MOBA, The Sims-like Simulation, etc) are just around the corner. As hardware advancements come from Sony, Oculus, Valve and others, the landscape of VR will only grow.
  • Real-time AR MMOG — Pokemon Go captured our imagination back in 2016, with the promise of real world Pokemon collection and battle. And while it delivers to a degree, the concept of Augmented Reality games (AR) has yet to see its destined conclusion. Fully real-time networked experiences based on player proximity and real-world structures is the next logical step, and many believe that mobile 5G will herald this revolution. It is fully within the realm of social distancing to participate in a real-world AR game with others, from a safe 6-feet distance.

4. Video Chat as a Mechanic

  • Among Us-Likes — Games like Among Us, like Town of Salem, like Space Station 13 will likely surge, as players look for the next game after Among Us. Video and Audio as a mechanic for social deduction games will be more commonplace, and closely integrating into games will also become more common.
  • Face tracking, expressions, eye movement — Many game studios have already played with this concept. Imagine a horror game that reads your facial expressions to fine-tune the level of jump-scares, or a game that tracks eye movement to determine where to place upgrades. Video integration combined with computer vision technology can drive exciting game mechanics, outside of just chatting with friends.

5. Player Generated Content

  • Modding out of the box — If you have read some of my other articles, you will know that I’m a huge fan of games that allow players to take the experience into their own hands. Just recently, Fall Guys cheaters were given their own server, albeit for punitive reasons, they had free reign to hack within an isolated environment. If players want to mod the game and experience it in a different way, game designers should embrace and encourage it.
  • Build your own game infrastructure — Games are meant to be made just as much as they are meant to be played! Consider what Mario Maker did for the retro-2D Mario fan-game community. If this methodology was applied to all forms of game, players could create unending content for the games they love, and share with others. This structure for allowing players to build a community around the building blocks you provide can allow a game to live on way longer than its finite play time.


Gamers are looking for brand new ways to enjoy games, now more than ever. I hope this article encourages you to build your games with these mechanics in mind!

If you are an indie game developer, you’re in luck. Here are some other article I have written specifically to help you succeed as an indie dev.

Freelance game designer / developer. Full stack developer. Board game geek and cat tamer.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store