Where You Thought Gaming Would Be

Back to the Future 2Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on something of a Back to the Future kick. I suppose this may have something to do with the classic trilogy’s recent release on Blu-ray, or simply because I am a science fiction nut that loves awesome movies. Regardless, there is something about the movies that always strikes me when I watch them, especially when dealing with Back to the Future II’s projections about the future.

If for some reason you’re not remember correctly, or a large rock fell on your head and deleted megabytes from your brain, Back to the Future II has some fairly outlandish predictions about where humanity’s technology and sense of style was supposed to be in the year 2015. The notable (and laughable) examples would be that of shoes that tie themselves, flying cars, and home fusion reactors.

While this movie is obviously a comedy, it’s still something that I think that people tend to do in general when we talk about the future: in some ways we wildly over project, and in others we are floored by things we never thought of. The same is true for video games.

If you had asked the 15 year old version of myself what I thought gaming would look like in 2010, I have several ideas about what that punk would have told you. Each of these ideas was inspired by the things that affected me most at the time, and the games that truly captured my imagination. To me, the games that most clearly signified what the future would be covered a wide array of genres and styles of play. They ranged from first person shooters to RPGs, and existed on both the console and the PC.

One of the first experiences that struck me around this time as feeling like the future of gaming had arrived would have to be Super Mario 64. For the first time, 3D worlds felt fully realized, gorgeous and big enough to get lost in. There was nothing quite like flying with the winged cap, soaring about and taking in all the sights there were to see. I would sometimes spend hours just going through all of the different worlds, experiencing the crisp controls and mastering all of Mario’s skill set.

Super Mario 64

At the time, I remember feeling that some day, all game worlds would be like this: sprawling and enormous, with an unprecedented amount of interactivity. The interesting thing about it is that this both is and isn’t true in 2010. In some ways, we’ve seen this grow in leaps and bounds. Games like Oblivion or Grand Theft Auto have given us big worlds to run around in and make our playground, where we can do what we please. A huge city like GTA IV would have blown my mind back in those days. However, the idea that even in this day and age, many of the buildings or nooks and crannies of this world are just there for window dressing still disappoints the kid in me, even though I know it’s not realistic in terms of putting the game together.

Another thing I expected from gaming in the future would have to be completely photo-realistic graphics, that looked akin to playing an actual movie with your own two hands. The first time I saw CG cut scenes in Final Fantasy VII, I remember thinking that some day games would look like that, and we’ve definitely surpassed that. There are certain games and engines that still blow me away, particularly anything made in the Unreal engine. The first time I played Gears of War, I remember thinking we’d truly arrived in that day I had dreamed of, where games were looking more like that.

The funny thing about all of that is in some ways, game graphics feel like they’re hitting a plateau. Even more interesting: I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. It’s forcing more developers to try and come up with unique art styles, to show us things we’ve never seen before. 15 year old me just wanted everything to look like an action movie. Current Eddy knows that stylized games like Limbo, Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption are some of the most gorgeous things I’ve played to date.

On and on these presuppositions go. I could sit here and list all of them out (such as how I never really thought I’d want to play multiplayer games with people that weren’t in the same room), but I wanted to go ahead and ask what you guys think about where gaming is.

1. 10 years ago, what kinds of predictions would you have made about 2010, and what did you expect gaming to be as you got older?

2. How close would you say we are to the mark, and in what ways do you still want gaming to grow?

3. Where do you expect gaming to be in 2020?


Written by

I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

3 thoughts on “Where You Thought Gaming Would Be”

  1. 1. 10 years ago I didn’t have internet access, but I knew a little about how multiplayer gaming worked. I thought for sure we’d be able to play with others on different consoles and systems by now. Obviously knowing a little more about economics at this age I see the conflict haha.

    2. I’d say graphically we’re doing pretty good. I think a lot of developers have been doing “styalized” graphics for a while, because our computers are certainly capable of making far more realistic graphics, but the amount of time and effort are just unreasonable, not to mention getting them to run on consoles / common house-hold PC’s. Truly photo-realistic violence in video games would turn people off reeeaaally fast.

    3. By 2020, I think we will see smaller games in bytesized chunks ;). The whole “chapters” thing has been tried, but it’s mostly effective for casual games. I think it will only take a few big developers to release games 1 mission at a time before others start to catch on. Right now, they sell us big titles in 1 big piece for $60, and it seems Demos are becoming more rare, relying rather on buzz and commercials or past successes in the franchise. They’ll have to move like the music industry did to fight piracy; I don’t think iTunes is the answer for music (although millions of people are “proving” me wrong), but I think it could work for games like COD. Give me a few missions and I’ll see if I want to buy the rest, etc.

    Great article!

  2. 1. I was excepting much more realistic graphic, movie-like action sequences and stories, mutliplayer matches with hundreds of people, the combination of genres (for example: strategy + ego-shooter, one guy(plays like a strategy game) command others(plays like a ego-shooter) on a battlefield) and getting a “online real life simulator” (buying virtual house, drive to virtual work, meet other players… sounds really boring).

    2. The graphic got better, but I like the fact that we haven’t ultra realistic 1337 graphix. For instead we got a lot of different art styles. We got movie-like action sequences (Call of Duty) and good stories (but we still need more and better ones). The mutiplayer matches got smaller (from Joint Operations (2004) with 150 players to Halo Reach with 16 players and Black Ops with max. 24…. wtf?!). This is a huge disappointment…
    There more genre-crossing (e.g. Fallout 3) and we got a funny “real life simulator” aka. the Sims (and a boring and shitty online one aka. second life).

    3. Many more people will play games, so there will be a bigger range. I hope for better story telling and artistic games. Still, I am wishing for larger multiplayer matches (Battlefield 6, now with 500 player co-op xD).
    I have no idea where the whole motion controller thing will go. And I don’t think cloud gaming (like Onlive) will be a big issue in 2020. Maybe in 2030

  3. Dude, Call of Duty 4, MW2, and Black Ops’ graphics blow Gears of War outta the water. 60 fps, really-than-movie-CGI animation and texturing, and its all in-engine. And dropped frame rate is as rare as an AK-47 jamming.

    1) I also thought, “Man, one day, all games will have regular graphics as good as cutscene graphics!” Little did I know that regular and cutscene graphics would be one-in-the-same for many games. And they’d be epic. I also foresaw a whole bunch of gameplay innovation. We’ve definitely seen a lot of improvements and new features, buuut there’s still room for improvement and even more new ideas. Plus, game stories are becoming even better, which I predicted back when I was just old enough to really appreciate Ocarina of Time’s story.

    2) I want to see fewer FPS’s and more RPG’s, Adventure games, and Strategy games. I love FPS’s, yes, but I feel my own creativity dulled by the deluge of CoD and Halo rip-offs that have dominated the other genres. Thanks to FPS’s, graphics and online consistency (frame rate, connection strength, etc.) have been stress-tested and therefore polished, and I’d love to see an RPG with Call of Duty-tier graphics, or Final Fantasy cutscene graphics in-game. It sounds crazy, but it’s damn possible. I want to see more innovation in the gameplay, and with FPS’s, there’s only so much you can do to add spice to “enter room, shoot muthafuskas, enter next room, repeat…”. Combining FPS’s and RPG’s (not the Soviet ones) is a great idea, and I’d be happy to see more of those; basically more Fallout 3’s. I’d also like to see what can be done with tactics or strategy games. So let’s take what FPS’s did right and helped games with, and make games in different genres. Also, let’s make online even better. I want matchmaking playlists that are just for goofing off and playing cool community-made mods, gametypes, maps, and other cool things!

    3) 2020? The world will be gone for 8 years. I guess we could play some SimCity with Jesus. That’d be pretty swell.

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