Gaming is about to embark on a fundamental change in the next 5 to 10 years. Revolutions are occurring in computer hardware impacting visual technology, game controllers and sensory feedback. Add to that revolutionary software will change the whole concept of what we consider games to entice participation from all demographics. All this will be impacted by incredibly higher processor speeds that will fundamentally change the way computer games are played.
Revolutions are coming in visual technology. 3D technology has hit the movie screens big time, generating an added realism to movies. It won’t be long before that technology is transferred to the video game industry. Imagine the 3d realism of gunshots coming at you or a football heading your way in a 3d football game. The hardware in primitive form is already available as specialized headsets from Display Systems. Even more amazing, a company called Ethereal is working on a 3d hologram projector that will make the holo-decks of Star Trek and X-men a reality. It won’t be long before games are written to take advantage of the new technology as movies are today.
Revolutions are coming in the sensory feedback we receive from games. Currently, almost all of the feedback we get from games are visual and audio. We get a little touch feedback from game controllers that shake in our hands to simulate hits. Well hold onto your hats. Soon to hit the market are vests that simulate being punched or shot to add realism. These are called Force feedback devices and they are already available from a company called Tngames.
Next to be developed will probably be full body force feedback suits. Imagine playing a zombie game and feeling the pressure of a simulated bite on your leg from the undead. There are also companies working on smell machines that will generate a scent based on the computer program. There is already a patent out for a computer scent dispenser that can connect to the Wii. It won’t be long before the smell of gunpowder is added to war games like Medal of Honor giving it a new sense of realism. In the not to distant future, games will be able to manipulate our senses merely by beaming signals directly into our brains.
Game controllers have not change much in years until recently. Most game consoles are controlled by single or multiple joysticks with tons of buttons. The Nintendo Company made the first revolution in controllers when it introduced the Wii and the first motion sensor controllers. Instead of controllers, games will be controlled by our brain waves. Microsoft is not far behind with it’s version of motion sensor controls. However, these controls are primitive to what’s coming down the pipe. Already, there have been successful experiments with humans moving a cursor across a computer screen with their thoughts. The first headset is already available for sale at a company called emotive. It won’t be long before the old joystick is a thing of the past.
All these revolutions would not make a difference if the new influx of data cannot be processed quickly enough to give the user real time execution. That’s where the biggest revolution is coming in processor speeds. For years chip makers have hit a wall in how small they can shrink the computer chip. There is a limit to the size of the wiring in the chips that carry electrons from transistor to transistor. To overcome that limitation scientist have been able to design chips that use light waves instead of electrons. This will enable them in five to 10 years to make chips with incredible processing speed. Some scientists think that in 20 years the super fast chips could make computers that can think like humans. Imagine games that learn enough about us to keep us perpetually engaged as we learn how to master the game.
Games will take on the roles of life. Like the movies the the Matrix, games will involve interacting with other people with avatars ( digital representations of us) in virtual worlds. It will be like Facebook, merged with World or Warcraft, but add in voice, touch and smell. Games like spore are already at the forefront of this revolution. We will be able to produce ideal versions of ourselves and engage in virtual risky activities while our physical bodies remain safe.
The gaming industry is poised to take a revolutionary step forward that will impact every demographic on the planet. The new technology will increase the use of video game hardware and software in everyday life. I can already see the effects on how we learn. Understanding how to make video games will put a person in charge of their economic future in the years to come.