Wednesday, September 30, 2020

25 Years!

In September 1995 I started my first ever job in the games industry. I began my career 18 days before the original PlayStation was released in Europe, which was itself 25 years ago today. It's been an eventful two and half decades, and much has changed in the industry, nearly all of it for the better. 

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, good at futurology. I honestly couldn't understand the point of the Nintendo DS before it came out, which wasn't uncommon, but I'd played games with a stylus on PDA, and they were pretty cool, so I should have had better insight than I did. I also really didn't like the GTA series switching from top down to full 3D, until I played it of course, then I realised my mistake. 

However, I am on record from 2001 saying that one day there will be a game on a phone that will dwarf Pokemon, and I was right, until Pokemon came to mobile phones. Also, it should be noted that it was a written interview and one of my bosses was erroneously credited as the interviewee - he did apologise though. I also knew instantly, without touching it or even seeing a picture, that the iPad was going to have a massive impact, when all around me seemed to be saying, "it's just like a big inconvenient phone that I can't make calls on".

Anyway, here goes, my thoughts on what the next 25 year of gaming will involve, I'll try my best to be controversial.

1. Self proclaimed hardcore gamers will continue to complain that not enough games are being made for them while still having plenty enough games to fully occupy every minute of every day.

2. Smell-o-vision will be massive. It bloody well will be, because nothing jumps into memory banks faster than smells. It's going to be intense.

3. Cloud gaming will be the norm. You know it will be, just get used to it, there's already a ton of games that only work when they're online, so why not have all the grunt work happening at the other end of the intertubes too. Also, I'm glad this isn't an infrastructure problem I will ever have to have a hand in solving.

4. News agencies will continue to report that, "the video games industry is bigger than Hollywood", like it's new news. 

5. E-sports will grow and grow as a spectator sport, but they will also move into augmented spaces that will increasingly require athletic prowess from their participants. 

6. Gambling mechanics in games will threaten to ruin everything right up to the point where government legislation catches up.

7. VR will be massive, but only if Covid lockdowns continue off and on for the next 25 years.

8. AR will become ubiquitous through light weight glasses, and so will AR games. Hopefully no one will be playing games that require arm flailing on the bus - spoiler: they will.

9. A genuine real world grass roots revolution will start in a video game. It might not be a good revolution, but somewhere this will happen.

10. People in games will be co-opted to solve real world problems. This is already happening, but when AIs start designing games they're bound to find some really significant and clever ways to use all the spare humans that are lying around for something remotely useful.

Whatever happens, I just hope I get to continue working with awesome people on great games.