Take a look at today’s video games, and it becomes quite clear just how much of an impact modern technology has had on how we game today. Just two decades ago, the world was astonished by the 16-bit graphics of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, two of the most popular consoles to ever be released. While gameplay was still a blast on these systems, the graphics left quite a bit to be desired. Enter 2014, however, and all of this has changed.

It’s not just graphics that have seen major improvements over the years, however – it’s how we play these games, too. Gaming is becoming more social as time goes on, which is evident when you log into Facebook (Words With Friends, for example) or browse the more popular gaming communities on the web. There are more advancements than one could ever count on two hands that have influenced modern gaming, but here are a few changes that have reshaped the landscape forever.

Cloud-Based Gaming

The cloud has, of course, had a major impact on the ways in which people do business online, but it has also changed gaming forever. In the past, gaming without physical media would’ve been very difficult, and that which was available was relatively low-brow. With new technology and services like OnLive, it’s now possible to play HD games right within your browser. Gone are the days in which loading gigabyte after gigabyte of data onto a PC or purchasing expensive console games were the only ways to achieve high-quality gaming, and the future only looks more and more bright for the cloud each year. Even if you just want to play games online or are looking to tackle the latest FPS without having to buy the game itself, cloud-based gaming facilitates it.

Touch Technology

Twenty years ago, the idea that you’d be able to play a video game by simply touching the screen would’ve seemed like something out of a science-fiction film. It’s clear today, however, that touch technology is here to stay and will no doubt have a major impact on the future of gaming. Touchscreens can be found everywhere, from smartphones to the newest laptops, and developers are doing whatever they can to incorporate the technology into their games. A similar effect occurred years ago when analog sticks began to be added to console gaming controllers. Even though that type of technology had already exists for years, it made a huge splash when it became a part of the gaming landscape. As analog sticks are still popular, so too will touch technology be in the coming years.

Cinematic Gaming

If there’s one major thing that has changed about the scope of games over the past 20 or so years, it’s the fact that games have become far more cinematic than they ever were in the past. Today’s games are essentially interactive movies in a lot of ways, featuring CGI that rivals that which is found in Hollywood blockbusters. Of course, this has raised the price of many console games, but PC users are finding that the digitization of games is making them less and less expensive as the years go on. There will always be a place for arcade/action games, but the cinematic gaming of today has changed the way we look at the medium in the grand scheme of things.

Gaming will no doubt continue to change, as it has been about evolution ever since the very beginning. This being said, there’s no getting around the fact that we’re currently living in a veritable golden age of gaming.

Sara is a freelance writer and soloprenuer. She’s also a self proclaimed geek who wins most matches of Street Fighter and loves to play bingo online. She most enjoys writing about technology and business.