I’ve recently been thinking about where video games could go in the future. I hope to work in the video game industry one day after finishing college and have been wondering a lot about it. What do I want to happen in the future? Well, I may not have too many answers at the moment, but I have come up with a few ideas that I think may come into play. In the not too distant future.
First of all, forget about virtual reality as we know it. They have tried virtual reality glasses and made a lot of people sick doing it. It will probably never work very well in its current form. They’re still out there and you can still buy them, but they don’t really seem to be taking off. It will probably take a lot for people to fully immerse themselves and engage in a new form of the game. Losing contact with the outside world is threatening and the people around you are not going to appreciate it much either. Sci-fi neural implants are a long way off, too, and aren’t likely to be accepted by the majority of the population without a bit of marketing and luck. For my part, I don’t plan on going through brain surgery just to have a computer hooked up to my head. In fact, I never want anyone to be able to connect to my brain.
A technology that caught my eye by an enthusiastic presenter at the local Science and Technology Center. (a kind of science museum designed to make science fun for kids and young adults like yours really) is the “Augmented Reality.” Augmented reality is essentially the superimposition of virtual items in the real world, such as a pair of transparent glasses that can show certain items about what is actually there. I agree with the presenter that this could have great potential. Forget all the socially beneficial apps like getting workers to see underground pipes before digging, think about it from a games point of view. This technology could give gamers the ability to run around looking like idiots shooting at things that aren’t really there and that no one else can see, kind of like in the movie “They Live.” The advantage of this is that it would be a lot of fun. A group of people from the University of South Australia created the ?? ARQuake ?? draft, [http://wearables.unisa.edu.au/projects/ARQuake/www/], merging the classic Quake shooter with this augmented reality technology. Again, this technology may never get too popular, but it would be fun to play with.
Technology has powered the gaming industry for a long time with new games always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. It started at the dawn of technology and continues to this day. 2D graphics gave way to 3D and 3D just keeps getting better. Graphics are starting to lose the ability to impress as before. The step between Quake 2 and 3 was amazing, but DOOM 3, while visually very impressive, is not leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors like new games used to be. 2D graphics encountered a similar problem; There comes a point where not much more can be done with graphics technology. This is what makes graphics go from the pursuit of technological achievements to becoming art. I am hopeful that we will start to move away from the technical demonstrations and get back to the game and have some great entertainment. Games like Zelda: The Wind Waker or The Sims that live to show greater depth of character by simplifying the game enough to portray emotions will hopefully become more commonplace (and more fun, but that’s just one person’s view. ??). Technology plays a role in conveying emotions and stories, but it is quite difficult to focus on everything at once. When technology becomes easier and less essential to game sales, hopefully we will see an increase in games that make a lasting impression.
Somewhat unfortunately the rise of the “Casual Gamer” will likely lead to the release of more simplistic games. While I’d personally love to see the depth of the story and the characters, there are a significant number of players who want to pick up a game for twenty minutes or so, have a little fun, and then put it off for another time. These players are generally less interested in the latest technology and more interested in “fast food.” kind of entertainment that satisfies the moment, despite a lack of quality or long-lasting effects. Hopefully, the two types of games can coexist peacefully, although recently it has been seen that some developers are reducing some of the planned depth of a title to suit the more casual gamer.
As technology advances, the boundaries are slowly being broken between systems. We saw the Bleemcast a few years ago that allows playing PlayStation games on the Dreamcast, and the PC can run just about anything with the proper emulation software. Consoles can emulate other consoles and new consoles are being announced that promise the ability to play PC games. The Xbox 2 is reported to have a model in planning that comes in a PC case and with the ability to run both PC software and Xbox software. Macs can emulate Windows software and vice versa. We will probably start to see a minor difference between consoles and PCs as the price of technology continues to drop and consoles continue to become increasingly powerful and capable of competing with more expensive computers. Ideally, we will see a single platform take center stage so that everything can be run without buying a large number of different machines, although that has a downside as it can establish a monopoly for a particular company.
The fall in the price of technology and the increase in power have also led to more powerful handheld machines than before. Real games, not just simple toys, are now available for the portable market. The advent of PDAs and mobile phones with the ability to play raises awareness for handheld games and new entrants are beginning to enter the field that was once primarily dominated by Nintendo’s GameBoy. There is a new product, the gp32, which can run many different emulators and thus many different system games (including some PC games).
I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen, but these are just a few ideas I’ve had recently. Hopefully the games industry will continue to push itself to new heights with new and interesting games, stories, characters, and ideas. I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next few years.