Thursday, December 16, 2010

What does the future hold for Video Games?

What is the future of gaming? Considering any aspect of your life it is always better to look into the future than focus on the present. I could comment on what Blizzard has done with WoW or how Call of Duty is redefining first person shooters, but that is today. What about next year, or say in five years from now. Obviously to make any sort of educated guess about the future one must first consider the past and present.

I think we are going to slowly see a blending of the genres. As each new game comes out they are going to “borrow” a feature from another extremely popular game in a different genre. You can already see it today with Call of Duty having levels and different guns, much like items in a RPG. What does this mean for the gamers? Well it will probably be a good thing in all honesty. Developers have been sticking to a rigid feature list for their genre for so long we are… were beginning to stagnant in game innovation. It’s easier to copy a winning formula than write your own. As the genres merge we should, hopefully, see the best features from each style of game rise to the top. Imagine taking the best features… or game mechanics… from your favorite fighting game, action game, and first person shooter game then combining them in a logical, and fun, manner.

Here is the catch though. You can’t just say, “Hey Bob! Lets add combos like in Killer Instinct to our Sci-Fi shooter then let them dress up in pink dresses to get the girls on board.” (Bob just seems like a good designer name) That won’t work. You must adhere to some sort of logical cohesion prior to arbitrarily assigning game features. This is where game designers of TODAY are failing. They see a good idea and they try to take it. Rather than figuring out why said feature works they simply copy it and when it fails blame it on something else. You can’t copy part of an equation and still expect it to work.

This is why certain game developers are continuing to prosper and grow while others barely get a start. They understand that every part of the equation is equally important. You can in fact reach the same desired goal of having pink dresses in a game without necessarily having pink dresses. Understanding the psychology behind the decisions and why they work is key. I’m honestly shocked more developers don’t employ sociologist and psychologist to assist with game development.

It will take us at least 5 years but in that time we will see more and more games sharing key features. We will see more bloggers and video game websites struggle to define new games. The older gamers, including me, will be irate at having lost our way… but in the end games will get better. They will get better or people won’t buy them.

That being said the need for genre specific games won’t go away. The player base will diminish and any game that isn’t a homogenized cross genre game will be labeled “niche” regardless of the amount of success.

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