The Future of Gaming: Crash Course Games Part 1

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Hello, I’m Andre Meadows, and welcome to the final episode of Crash Course Games! Yeah, that’s right, you made it to the final level. If we go one more, kill screen. Yes, we’ve had a lot of fun here talking about games and we thought what better way to sign off this series than to take a look towards the future of gaming. Now this is the future we’re talking about here, and I don’t have a crystal ball, so this episode is going to be a bit more speculative than what you’re used to. Also this was filmed in 2016 so just keep that in mind.

eah, that’s right, you made it to the final level. If we go one more, kill screen. Yes, we’ve had a lot of fun here talking about games and we thought what better way to sign off this series than to take a look towards the future of gaming. Now this is the future we’re talking about here, and I don’t have a crystal ball, so this episode is going to be a bit more speculative than what you’re used to. Also this was filmed in 2016 so just keep that in mind.

But that being said today we’re going to do our best to look at some of the major gaming genres we’ve discussed in this series and make some predictions about where they may be headed in the future. We’ve talked about a lot of different types of games on this show. We even did an episode on sports. But we’ve spent a lot of time in this series talking about video games, and since they seem to be changing so quickly with improvements in technology, their future is the most difficult to predict. But I think we can say we’re pretty sure about a few things: video games and online casino games are going to continue to get more immersive and reach an even broader audience.

From Slug Russell’s Spacewar! (exclamation point) on the $120,000 PDP-1 to Bethesda’s Fallout 4 on the $300 Xbox One or PS4, improvements in technology have given more players than ever the opportunity to play great games, and we hope to see that continue into the future. But the future of the console itself isn’t completely certain. Perceptible improvements from generation to generation are diminishing. And the wow factor players once had when moving from 2d side-scrollers like Super Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog to 3d rendered worlds in Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure aren’t going to happen again, at least not on our televisions.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that consoles are doomed. Microsoft’s Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, suggests that consoles will continue to see much innovation but it will soon become more iterative like our cell phones. And this may already be starting to happen if the recent mid-cycle updates of the PS4 Neo and Xbox Project Scorpio are any indication. Our games might get smarter too.

Neural networks and deep learning are driving better and better artificial intelligence. Google DeepMind published a paper last year in which they trained an AI to play 49 video games from the Atari 2600, and it beat a top human player in 23 of those games. And just this year, they taught it how to navigate 3D mazes such as those in fps games like Doom!

Maybe one day NPC’s won’t just walk into walls but react, hide, ask questions, and provide valuable aid, just like real players. And that’s when the robots take over. Judgement Day. And like we’ve seen from the move first to cartridges, then to CDs, DVDs, blu-ray, even flash drives and SD cards, games tend to follow the most advanced storage formats. But what’s next?

The death of optical media seems almost certain, but some players still want to own physical copies of their games. For example, in 2013, when Microsoft announced that the upcoming Xbox One would require an Internet connection to allow their system to actively manage and store digital content on their cloud service, there was an immediate backlash from players, and Microsoft shortly after retracted those hardware requirements. But as I mentioned before, console manufacturers seem posed to start iterating much more frequently and, technology journalist Kyle Orland believes, “the console game market may start to resemble the app market on mobile phones” in the future. That is digital games libraries may follow the user, but software platforms could remain locked.

This model is actually somewhat similar to the current PC gaming model on Steam. But what about games? Games are only going to get better, right?