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Commentary > Game Over
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Catching crooks in virtual Hawaii
Developers predict what types of video games we'll be playing in 20 years.
September 23, 2004: 9:53 AM EDT
Game Over is a weekly column by Chris Morris

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) Holographic projectors. Spinal input ports. Head mounted 3D displays. If the predictions of certain developers come true, the video game machines of 2025 are going to be remarkably different than what we use today. But what about the games themselves?

Sure, hardware's cool. But ultimately, it's the games that sell the system. When I asked several prominent developers about what the future might hold for game machines, we also discussed software. Would the games of 2025 conform to today's genres? And what sort of advances can gamers expect?

"Every year existing genres become more indistinct as developers blend them," said Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games (creator of the "Spyro the Dragon" and "Ratchet & Clank" franchises). "And it seems like every few years several new genres crop up. So in 20 years I don't think the game landscape will be even close to resembling what we have right now. ... But don't worry - we'll still have first-person shooters...and baseball games. Probably."

One big hurdle developers will face is creating a truly lifelike artificial intelligence. In today's games even the most sophisticated ones your enemies tend to be either overly simplistic or blessed with unbeatable aim and reflexes. Goal one for some developers is to rectify that.

"I think the power of the future systems will be harnessed to make characters in our games seem absolutely real in every respect," said Greg Zeschuk, joint CEO at Bioware, which created "Baldur's Gate."

Meanwhile, the evolution of artificial intelligence could give birth to new genres, suggests Price.

"Can we really create truly convincing A.I.?," he said. "And will that make our games more fun and immersive? I'll bet that the attempt to answer these questions in our games will give rise to a host of new genres that are much more dependent on believable character interactions than on fast reflexes."

Ray Muzyka, Bioware's other CEO, agrees wholeheartedly.

"I believe that the key attributes of the roleplaying genre BioWare focuses on story, character interaction, and exploration will increasingly merge with other genres like action ... strategy, adventure etc to result in some truly amazing experiences," he said. " I can't wait to play those games myself!"

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The rise of user-created mods (new levels and characters created using basic programming code that ships with a game) could greatly influence the future of gaming as well. Publishers are reticent to fund innovative games today, due to their high cost. But by creating unique, popular modified playstyles, game players could nudge the industry into new forms of gameplay by 2025.

Developers, meanwhile, remain interested in changing the way people interact with games.

"Imagine a game that can sense your interests, emotional states and abilities," said Will Wright, creator of "The Sims". "Now imagine this game has the ability to change itself (rules, content, theme, difficulty). After playing this for a while it will begin to learn what you enjoy, what frustrates you, what type of people you like to meet and play with. Then it will begin to evolve to 'fit' you better, much like two close friends learn about each other and as a result enjoy each others company more over time. After a while my version of 'the game' will become almost unrecognizably different from your version; they each become an external representation of our 'fantasy worlds'."

 
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Of course, not everyone believes the genres of today will undergo drastic changes. Ed Boon, co-creator of the "Mortal Kombat" franchise said he feels today's staples are so firmly rooted in player's heads that there's no way to dislodge them. As a result, it's nearly impossible for new types of games to get established, no matter how innovative they might be.

"I strongly believe we will be playing games that are in genres we are familiar and comfortable with," he said. "Even if someone comes up with a completely different game experience, it will be extremely hard for it to make enough of an impact to compete against the stable of genres that are established now."

Sega's Yuji Naka, who created Sonic the Hedgehog, among other games, said he sees something of a happy medium between today's games and future technologies.

Current genres, he said, will remain, but he hopes to see these include 3D "virtual experiences".

"For example, if you play a game which takes place in Hawaii, then you will go to virtual Hawaii," he said. "Of course it will only be a virtual 3D experience, but it appears to be real. Once there, you will find yourself linked to a virtual crime and the guy next to you is the criminal. While realistic games exist today, it would be much more fun to feel a virtual fantasy world and become a character like Peter Pan. ... I personally think these games could be a lot of fun."  Top of page


Morris is Director of Content Development for CNN/Money. Got thoughts on what the games of 2025 will look like? Send him an e-mail.




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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.