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Going Beyond 2011? Gaming Plus 25 Years…

January 9, 2011

So having looked a gaming trends in 2011 and games that are coming in 2011 – now we cast our scrying mirror a little further a-field.  The Observer had a great article looking at not just 2011 – but 25 years forward, so 2011 till 2036.  There was one gaming entry in this (that I have covered before here):

Gaming: ‘We’ll play games to solve problems’

In the last decade, in the US and Europe but particularly in south-east Asia, we have witnessed a flight into virtual worlds, with people playing games such as Second Life. But over the course of the next 25 years, that flight will be successfully reversed, not because we’re going to spend less time playing games, but because games and virtual worlds are going to become more closely connected to reality.

There will be games where the action is influenced by what happens in reality; and there will be games that use sensors so that we can play them out in the real world – a game in which your avatar is your dog, which wears a game collar that measures how fast it’s running and whether or not it’s wagging its tail, for example, where you play with your dog to advance the narrative, as opposed to playing with a virtual character. I can imagine more physical activity games, too, and these might be used to harness energy – peripherals like a dance pad that actually captures energy from your dancing on top of it.

Then there will be problem-solving games: there are already a lot of games in which scientists try to teach gamers real science – how to build proteins to cure cancer, for example. One surprising trend in gaming is that gamers today prefer, on average, three to one to play co-operative games rather than competitive games. Now, this is really interesting; if you think about the history of games, there really weren’t co-operative games until this latest generation of video games. In every game you can think of – card games, chess, sport – everybody plays to win. But now we’ll see increasing collaboration, people playing games together to solve problems while they’re enjoying themselves.

There are also studies on how games work on our minds and our cognitive capabilities, and a lot of science suggests you can use games to treat depression, anxiety and attention-deficit disorder. Making games that are both fun and serve a social purpose isn’t easy – a lot of innovation will be required – but gaming will become increasingly integrated into society.

Jane McGonigal, director of games research & development at the Institute for the Future in California and author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Help Us Change the World (Penguin)

However this is about how games may grow in use within society – and as a direct effect of networking of technology. That said (and I don’t disagree) but there was a load of other interesting predictions that would change how we play games and the kind of game we may make…

Neuroscience: ‘We’ll be able to plug information streams directly into the cortex’

By 2030, we are likely to have developed no-frills brain-machine interfaces, allowing the paralysed to dance in their thought-controlled exoskeleton suits. I sincerely hope we will not still be interfacing with computers via keyboards, one forlorn letter at a time. …

Now just stop and imagine the kind of games you could design with direct interface? Yes, not so much Virtual Reality, but it’s inversion, our Reality made Virtual. I’ve been re-reading Neuromancer, which I hope to post about soon. Still a visionary book in many respects and it is via direct inputs to the brain that the central character communicates with the Web. The novel describes this new anti-ecludian world as “Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and consolations of data.”.

But wait! That’s not all… Quantum computing is the future declares one headline – though it does not go into enough detail. Put simply, this offers a radical powering up of computation. Games have always been an application that pushes any hardware it runs on to the limit (unlike office software) so what could a game do with a Quantum computer? Indeed.

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