With each passing year video games get better and better. Because both creativity and improvements in technology promise changes that, for all practical purposes, have few if any limitations, one can scarcely imagine what the next generation of video games will be able to do. Already video games are surpassing the capacity of games that were around as few as 10 years ago; they are also some of the hottest retail items on the market, despite a bad economy. In addition to all the awesome things they can already do, the next generation of video games will feature, among others, the following improved characteristics:
1. Will utilize voice command and mind-controlled devices. Keyboards, mice, game pads, paddles, trackballs, yokes, pedals, light guns, joysticks, and, more recently, Wii Remotes or Wiimotes, can be very handy, but they will soon become obsolete, as voice and mind-controlled technologies becomes more readily available. Actually, voice activation technology is already here, but, as if often the case with new technology, it is not just a matter of having it, but of being able to package it and mold it into saleable and affordable products. As for mind-controlled devices, these have already been introduced by companies like EmotivSystems, using electroencephalography, as reported by Wall Street’s Don Clark on MSNBC not too long ago. These technologies will bring video games to whole new levels of intensity, ease, convenience, and interactivity; they will also greatly expand the present market of players, possibly attracting older, more mature audiences-i.e., people who have hitherto resisted playing video games, generally viewing them as “toys for young folks.”
2. Will be able to capitalize on lots more memory. One of the limitations that have kept video games from evolving is the, up to now, relatively-limited amount of information-managing capacity. This is changing quickly and will soon open up avenues of possibilities that have been hitherto closed. More memory means much better graphics and sound effects. Already, today’s games are much better than the old games, but they are still in the dark ages, compared to the games that will be able to utilize 25 gigabites of RAM memory and beyond-and that is in the average computer-never mind games played at arcades and at computer terminals that may be made available at popular cafés, mass-transportation terminals, waiting offices, and at other places where the new technology may make video games attractive to a much bigger, better-diversified audience.
3. Will be more reality-like. The games of the future will utilize real people, places and things-these will probably be used as the foundation for computer animated graphics, which are becoming more and more sophisticated. These new games will utilize actors playing parts in actual world locations, utilizing technology already developed for movies such as The Fantastic Four (and other movies with amazing special effects). Computer-animated movies, as a matter of fact, have sometimes grossed as much in profits as those using actual actors and actresses; this technology is also raising video games to newer, much better, higher visual/audio-quality levels.
4. Will be much faster. “Mass Driver” (360/PS3), for example, illustrates this rather handsomely, when compared to “Grand Theft Auto,” probably one of the best video games ever developed, for its time. In Mass Driver one not only has choices of vehicles to maneuver, but one can also reach speeds that are literally astronomical. This feature will probably become standard in games of the future.
5. Will decrease in cost as formats become cheaper to make and distribute to eager waiting audiences. As data recording media becomes more affordable (while containing more and more data), the prices of games should come down, which will greatly enhance an already huge market.
6. Will be more physically demanding and interactive. This will actually be a very good thing for the industry, which has been accused of feeding into the needs of an unnecessarily sedentary society. People can actually get a good work out playing video games, thanks to companies like Wii (although other game makers appear to be following suit on this phenomenon). One game that illustrates this right now is Star Wars: Jedi Saga (Wii), which gives players a chance to wield a light saber that can hack down opponents with lightning, realistic-fervour speed; another is Deconstructionist (also by Wii), which requires the player, in full control of a giant robot, to bring down whole buildings and, sometimes, whole blocks of edifices, while getting a pretty good workout.
7. Will deliver more adrenalin-pumping, hair-raising action. The latest games we have on the market do a good job of delivering on this characteristic but the games of the future will do an even better job. One game that points at what is possible is DC vs Marvel Superhero Brawl (360/PS3), which pits some of the toughest superheroes ever against each other. This pushes fighting to whole new levels of destruction and mayhem. At what point is destruction too much destruction? Players of the future will strive to find out, perhaps without end.
8. Much better and larger multi-player capacity. Right now, it is possible to have groups of people participate in certain games, but this is likely to improve drastically in the near future. One game that points in that direction is World War Omega (PC). Because of games such as this one, thousands (and, someday, millions) of people will be able to play along at the same time, using much-more-sophisticated player options, game capacity, control mechanisms and visual/audio graphics.
9. Will teach and help enhance action skills. Because of games like Total Kung Fu (Wii), video games will be used not just for entertainment but for training and educational purposes. And the reason this is not far away right now is illustrated by Total Kung Fu, which allows anyone to either pick up or practice martial arts moves they may already know. The game is very realistic, including the sound of breaking bones and people bleeding, after receiving a nasty blow to the chin. As these games get more sophisticated, there is no doubt that they will eventually be used to teach people martial arts and other types of sports; they are already being used for calisthenics programs.
10. Will employ characters with a mind of their own, using much more sophisticated AI technology. This will challenge players more and will put more mystery into each game, since players will be in less of control of things. Up to now, characters in video games have generally been brain-dead, robotic puppets completely under the control of players. This will change as new characters will be given personalities, a mind of their own, and decision-making abilities. This is already happening, as seen in the game Hard Cell (360/PS3), which features a tough protagonist who is sent on a glorious, adventurous mission, but, who, instead of doing exactly what he is told, actually talks back and questions bad decisions made by the human game player. The better a job the player does of making the right calls, the more the protagonist cooperates, which, of course, improves the player’s playing skills and makes the whole experience a lot more meaningful and interactive.