Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Future of Computer Games

It was 1989 and I had my first experience with computer games. Being born and bread in South Africa we were probably one of the last countries who discovered games for computers. The reason for that is because we had apartheid and therefore we were outcast by the rest of the world. So in 1989 the Americans probably launched Need for Speed and back in South Africa we were playing Space Invaders. Ok maybe that is a bit over the top but we did play Space Invaders in 1989. Lets take a look of what we can expect in the next few years.

Now almost 20 years later we are looking at a world where PC games can change the way people live. We are not there yet but think about it for a while. It can have a massive effect on our social lives and by saying that I dont mean people are stuck in front of their computers and not meeting other people. It means that a new world is getting ready to be borne. That world is what we already know is called virtual reality.

Virtual reality computer games will soon be so powerful that we will be able to take our families on a holiday for a week in the Swiss Alps without leaving our house. Imagine plugging in and insert a PC game called New York. The New York computer game will enable me to do anything I want in that city. I can take my family out to watch the games or even play a baseball game myself in the Yankee stadium.

When this technology will be available no-one is sure, but we all know that EA Sports and Sony has been working on it for the last few years. Computer games are becoming more challenging for players and those creating them. Some of the experts believe that the improved look of games will raise players expectations which will prove a burden for almost all game designers. Game makers will have to develop new skills and techniques to make the most of the opportunities offered by the new technologies.

Computer game designers are struggling to keep up with the consumer demand. To create a city or a world of realism will take enormous man power to develop. Another problem is that designers get easily seduced by the look of a game and neglect more fundamental issues. Game play is just as important as graphics. If a game doesnt play well you can have the best graphics possible but players get frustrated when they cant do things they want to.

Game designers have to develop new skills that made in-game characters more intelligent and capable of meaningful interaction and even conversations. Colin Hughes from Sony Research said: The big step forward is going to be synthesis of speech and have it driven by a behavioural model and have it act as a character within computer games.

Researchers and game developers are always searching for better ways to get closer to that goal some of us are already dreaming of. The world of games will have such a massive impact in the next 10 years that new laws will have to be written. Let us look forward to what awaits us.


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