Videogames: What awaits us.

lunes, 6 de junio de 2011 - Publicado por Manuel en 1:22
Good news, videogames Geeks! E3 is here, and it´s going to be legend-,  wait for it, dary!. Ok, now that i got your attention, i wanna talk a little about the future of videogames, and how I vision it.

We have reached a point in which videoconsoles innovate, and are benchmarked, in three different areas:

-Graphics, the more real the better. Actual generation of platforms have reached almost state of the art graphics. An example is the famous Shift 2, a PS3 car videogame which is claimed to be "More real than reality". Take a look if you wish.

Impressive, uh?. So I can´t see graphics as the main competitive advantage for the next generation, but a required user specification.

-Games. This is one of the actual drivers for the customers to favor one console rather than other. Proprietary games are specific to one platform, and attractive games are what gamers look for in the end. But nowadays, just a bunch of titles are of this kind, with the vast majority being multi-platform. So, even if this key driver will still be used by platforms to leverage their investments in game development (hardcore gamers like franchises after all), I think this will not be enough.

-Interaction. And this is the final driver I can see. New generations are only starting to change the way we play, or with who we play. From single player, to MMOG, and from a single controller pad, to the Blue ocean strategy of Nintendo Wii, offering new ways the players can interact with the games. 

IMHO, this driver will be the next thing. Im going to list here a few ways that next generation of consoles could use to INNOVATE, with capital letters:

-3D. Probably a must have in the next generation. Being so strongly pushed by Film industry, content providers just hope that everyone adopts this technology for screens as the standard. No matter that the technology is not perfected yet, with some users feeling what is called "3D motion sickness" when watching 3D movies. 

-New haptic devices. As Nintendo Wii showed us, controllers are not the only way to interact. Microsoft Kinect could be the next standard (reducing the lag issues of course). Your body as a controller. Just that.

These two were easy. But I think that these are not breakthrough, so there must be something else. Lets see.

-IMMERZ. Im not pretty sure about this devices, which are capable of  "providing the user with a directional full sensory immersive experience and a heightened emotional, sensory response to whatever entertainment they are enjoying" According to them, of course. Basically, Immerz offers stereo audio speakers, connected to the user´s chest, who will tremble and feel the sounds as if they were real.

-The CAVE. The Cave Automatic Virtual Environment. Basically, consists of a room with screens at every wall, ceiling , and floor, showing 3D images, which change according to where the user in the middle of the room is looking at. 
I have used this technology at the CeDint in the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and the perception of reality is amazing. In a simulation used to treat people suffering from Fear of heights, we were forced to climb a really big tower, and look down from the above. When I pushed my friend, we reacted as scared as if he was really in the tower.

-Up to this point, by combining the technologies I have been talking about, we would be able of interact naturally with a virtual environment, which would be perceived as real as it could be. The last point to interact, would be of course being able to move, run, or jump. Virtusphere solves this issue. By setting the player in an sphere, the user can move freely without moving from the same point (and hitting the wall, with painful consequences).

The cool thing of these technologies is that they already exist, and it is feasible to combine them all. The problem though, is that the estimated cost of all together would be about 20 million dollars. Which I will pay as long as I have them.

You can find a more technical foresight of the videogame industry in Gamasutra.