Future Thoughts on Gaming

I’ve been listening to Jesse Schnell (Professor at Carnegie Mellon) on his thoughts about the future of gaming development. He talks about beyond facebook games and club Penguin et al. I think I predicted some of the ‘big things’ he mentions but he does have a point that the really big things are regularly unexpected success stories.

I’ve also visited the Serious Games institute in Coventry this week. They’re working on simulations and on exploring EEG devices such as the Emotiv and Neurosky headsets which are Brain Computer Interface devices.

I won’t comment on the brain computer interface devices in detail as there is ongoing research by SGI and they’re comparing them to medical rated EEG devices (to give a baseline) and assessing the quality of the interpretation. I expect we’ll all benefit from that research and it will feed into our bio-feedback gaming research work at the OU.

I will say that the research work is fascinating and although the technology is still ‘green’ I think there is great potential. I think in a year or two this will mature into a very useful technology. I see it being most useful in the research arena although I know that Neurosky in particular are looking at the end user and brain control gaming (Star Wars Force Trainer etc. ) – The technology is still either a bit fiddly to use, requiring a lot of set-up and configuration, or a bit simplistic. I also think that the software could be improved. My concern with it is that I actually like using an artifact ‘controller’ to game and I can’t see that training myself so that when I blink I throw a grenade, or when I think ‘push’ I throw a rock is actually any more stimulating in the long run than doing it through a controller. Especially controllers with sound, rumble effect etc.

The SGI visit was cool and the stuff they’re doing on helping with real world situations through games based simulation of crowd behaviour is going to really have high impact once they perfect the rules and programs.

The rise of 3D gaming is also interesting to observe and is ramping up thanks to Sony and Microsoft  and others. I’ve blogged about it previously but this year it’s predicted to become more mainstream.

Augmented reality gaming is also coming to the fore with various augmented reality apps for the iPhone either out now or on the way. For example Sky Seige – Still rough but likely to get better throughout the year.

Then there are the new genre of games like Heavy Rain that are set to blur the boundaries, mixing storyline and games that are very much player driven in a way that the story depends on the actions to provide a really immersive and deeper experience (theoretically).

So it looks like we’re getting to a stage where there are lots of good things coming but perhaps within this scattergun of gaming diversity we’ll find several really big successes.

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About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

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