The end of the year is always a time of reflection for us here at Gamezebo, as we think back on all of the wonderful new gaming experiences that made the last 12 months such a blast to game through. But let’s be honest: all of these amazing video games wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the many technologies that are made to run them on! And as our beloved community moves even deeper into the digital age, those new gaming technologies only get more advanced and futuristic (and by default, more insanely awesome).

So we decided that it would only be fitting to take a look back at some of the greatest new technologies of gaming that were introduced on the market in 2013. From a full-fledged 3D virtual reality gaming helmet, to a Minority Report-like device that lets you game with in-air gestures, to the first home-based console that would bring Android-powered gaming to your TV screen, it’s clear that we’ve come quite a long way from the simple days of Pong. So without further ado, here are the 5 pieces of new tech that we thought were particularly great in 2013.

 

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Oculus Rift – We’re kicking this year’s tech list off with a big one: Oculus Rift, the long-awaited 3D virtual reality gaming helmet that is said to change the way we experience video games forever. With this truly next-gen piece of virtual reality hardware, players will literally be able to step into their favorite game worlds for the very first time, as the innovative technology utilizes low-latency 360-degree head tracking which allows you to look around your environment just by moving your head as you would in real life, not to mention a massively wide field of view. The product itself has been designed to be both stylish and comfortable, while teaming up with some of the industry’s most intense and powerful game engines for a truly immersive player experience in every sense of the word. With Oculus Rift on your head in 2013, you’re not merely just playing a video game anymore: you have become one with the game’s world entirely.

 

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iOS Controllers – There’s no way around it anymore: mobile games have officially become a strong contender for the crown against the more traditional industry of home console gaming, as we’re beginning to see countless high-quality game experiences pop up every day on smartphones and tablets. But while touchscreen controls and swiping gestures have always been synonymous with this new mobile era of gaming, there’s still just something so satisfying about gripping a physical controller in your hands as you blast away aliens or speed around the race track. Enter the new iOS controllers, first introduced at the tail-end of 2013 alongside Apple’s massive iOS 7 update. This new gaming technology effectively turns your iPhone into a legit portable game console akin to the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita by placing tangible buttons and movement pads on either side of the hardware. If these new iOS controllers truly begin to catch on, then who knows what kinds of mobile games we might see by this time next year!

 

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Leap Motion – Simply put, Leap Motion is the fastest way you can turn yourself into Tom Cruise from Minority Report today. By setting up the tiny hardware in front of your computer (which looks no bigger that a portable flash drive, mind you), Leap Motion will effectively let you control everything on your screen using simple in-air gestures, and without having to physically touch anything at all. And the best part about it? The thing actually works! But even so, what good is a piece of innovative technology without a slew of awesome games to test it out on? Well in that regard, Leap Motion has also got you covered, with currently supported games like Cut the Rope and Dropchord being repurposed so that players can control everything in the app by simply waving their hands around in front of the screen. I think it almost goes without saying that the future of gaming and the digital age in general is already here!

 

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Dice+ – Physical board games are so 2012, are they not? I don’t know about you, but these days I like to have my boards displayed on a beautiful touchscreen, and my dice rolls purely digital. Well Game Technologies seemed to have felt the same way when they rolled out (pun definitely intended) their innovative piece of tech Dice+ this year, which offered an entirely new way to play dice-based games in the digital age. At its core, Dice+ is literally just a six-sided die like you would find in any old box of Yahtzee or Monopoly. But the big difference here, despite it being a little larger than normal dice, is that Dice+ is fully backed up by internal technology, and it communicates directly with your tablet to create some truly unique gaming experiences that blend the realms of physical and digital entertainment. While there are only a few basic games included in the Dice+ starter bundle so far, the sky is really the limit for this new-age era of rolling the bones.

 

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Ouya – There’s simply no denying that Ouya has been something of a black sheep in the gaming tech world ever since its botched release earlier this year. But despite the faulty controllers, despite the current lack of exclusive games, and despite the head-shaking Free the Games controversy surrounding its attempt to acquire said exclusive games, the Ouya console still ultimately accomplished exactly what it set out to do: bring Android-powered gaming to your TV screen. And as the very first home-based console that lets you play your favorite mobile games right there on the big screen, the true ramifications of what Ouya has put into motion are huge (after all, just look at all of the Kickstarter funds this thing has been racking up!). This is definitely one piece of tech that you’ll want to be keeping an eye on in 2014 and beyond, as things can only get better from here.