Imagining the Future of Gaming

As a fan of the book Ender’s Game and advances in technology, especially for our own entertainment, I was interested to see the film maker’s interpretation of the Simulator. According to the book it is like the most perfect video game ever and the user can change the angles to see the battle from any angle. The Simulator was mainly a space war strategy game where the user controlled the squadrons of fighter craft. Being an air force nut myself I completely loved this part of the book.

The film interpretation was incredible. The Simulator appeared as a window doming this large room where Ender and his fellow cadets would orchestrate the battle from. It basically looked like the battle was happening right outside of their room in deep underground caves on the asteroid Eros. I don’t think I could have ever imagined the Simulator in that way. And the way the angles or point of view of the game was changed was with one motion of Ender’s arm. It was fluid, it was flawless. I was amazed.

You might need to see a picture to get a better idea

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Now that is one awesome video game!

I just wish the film could have been more successful in the Box Office. It was visually stunning and stayed more or less true to the story. I don’t really need to bring up the controversy that surrounded it before it even hit the cinemas, and I think that really impacted on the film’s success. If it had been a major hit then I’m sure we would have seen some type of video game come out, even if it was just on iOS and Android devices.

I often spend a lot of time thinking what the game would look like, even if it was just a simple game in the Battle Room. The tilt controls on the iPad would have come in use and it could utilize the 360 degree controls too. I enjoyed playing Star Wars: Falcon Gunner with that type of control set up. A console version would have been ideal but I think like most game adaptations to films it would have failed to live up to the standards that hardcore gamers expect.

For many years I’ve been trying to come up with a revolutionary way of playing video games, for a story I’m working on. I did a lot of research on current games and kept my eye out for games that introduced novel forms of gameplay, like emergent gameplay where the outcome of the game is determined by the choices the player makes. I liked that game creators were making characters and stories more emotional and that players were looking for this too and not just wanting a game with high end graphics where the aim of the game was just to shoot as many enemies as they could. I read up on articles about the psychology of gamers; what makes them want to play games and keep coming back for more, what was happening in their brains when they played and whether socioeconomic issues introduced to games had any impact on them and if they could go onto changing their outward view of the world.

When it came to me deciding to buy a new console I had these things in mind and wanted to go for a brand that was going in that direction. Xbox seemed to be what I was looking for. I liked how in Project Spark they let users create their own worlds that they could play games in and when going online against another user the system that matched up gamers who were on the same level in terms of experience, was like an idea I devised for my own console.

I ended up buying a Wii U. The added gamepad function seemed innovative enough for me and it might give me more ideas. I didn’t just want to continue my research but play a variety of games. I grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario and Donkey Kong and I wanted to play their latest game installments, but I also wanted to get into some FPS and as a Marvel fan I couldn’t get away from close-combat games. It was also more affordable and had the convenience of backward compatibility that no other console offers. And I think the one thing that keeps me going back to Nintendo is the feeling of nostalgia I still get when playing the games starring my old favourite Sega and Nintendo characters. As superior as I think Xbox and PS games are to Nintendo’s I still think their game characters don’t stand out as much as Sonic or Mario or any character like that. They’re almost like character actors like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. They can appear in games other than their own ones and sometimes appear in the same game but they stay in character. And I think it’s good that kids today have a chance to grow up with that like my generation did.

The game I’m most looking forward to playing is Mass Effect 3. It’s futuristic science fiction with a huge background story I’ve been reading up on and I’ve been told it has an emergent gameplay style. I don’t play a lot of RPG shooters, though I’ve played all the originals like Escape from Castle Wolfenstien and Quake, and it looks like a good introduction game to me and has a pretty interesting story, which as a sci-fi writer could help me generate some ideas again. The problem with young gamers today is they think anything that has a few similarities to another game or film or anything really, is a rip off, when it’s really more of an inspiration and like it or not but this is how people create. You take one idea and change it in such a way that it becomes your own new creation. Of course people can fail to do this and just create a clone of something and neglect to make enough changes so it is glaringly obvious they stole the idea. In this case, yes, it was a rip off.

Another issue in the gaming community I’m trying my best to steer clear of is the brand wars. I’ve taken part in many brand wars in my youth and none was more extreme and obsessive as Canon vs Nikon. When it comes to brand wars over phones and tablets and gaming platform I’m becoming kind of fatigued. I’ve even admitted to myself that both Canon and Nikon are just as good as each other and there was a time where Nikon was in the lead. That takes a lot of strength for me to admit that. The whole brand wars thing is just immature in my mind. There are a lot of things about the gaming community that seem immature but I find that with any fan group I associate with, especially now that everyone is glued to social networks and online fan communities.

I do wonder though that what is it that makes people with an Xbox 360, PS 3 or 4 or PC that makes them feel superior than the others? This does happen among Nintendo gamers but it’s less so. I really can’t see how someone’s worth can be measured by the types of games they play. I know not everyone is like that which I’m grateful for. I admit my reputation for keeping my mind open to other brands has not gone completely unblemished; I have shown favour to Marvel over DC comics but I’m now more willing to give DC a chance.

I just think this taking sides of a single brand against another brand that makes more or less the same type of product is something young people (even those in their 30s – see: emotional intelligence) do and once they mature emotionally they no longer need to act such a way or hold such a view. Therefore the whole war is meaningless to me and a waste of my precious time. Those people can have at each other’s throats and I’ll look for other cross-platform gamers who are willing to put our console differences aside so we can get into an interesting discussion that is about the games and less about the consoles.

I’m still waiting for my Wii U to arrive. It’s coming with about five games including Super Mario Bros U and Batman: Arkham Origins. Then I plan to buy Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze, Sonic: Lost World, Sonic Boom and The Amazing Spiderman when they come out, Call of Duty: Ghosts and possibly Watchdogs. Oh yes, and who can forget all the Avenger’s games? So, maybe it’s not the console I wanted but it has a lot of games I can play and I get to have some fun while researching at the same time.

Speaking of which…My problem about coming up with a new way to play games is I can only really think a few years in the future and Xbox are pretty much coming up with the same ideas, so it’s becoming less original. So, I’ve settled on the idea that it should be virtual reality but using the knowledge I’ve picked up about how neuroscience thinks VR should work. I probably don’t need to build much more on my idea, and unfortunately I can’t reveal anything because I want it to stay original. I have told my friends when I was drunk and they probably didn’t even pay that much attention to what I was saying. Never again will I let my tongue slip about it.

If I give up on the novel/screenplay for good then maybe I will reveal my idea to people, but for now I’m going to keep working on it and the story to see if I can get anywhere on it. And I get an excuse to buy and play more games.

So, as my unemployment and uncertainty about being a band photographer continues, I still have a lot of free time to learn about video games in a lot of depth, from discovering the psychology behind gaming to finding out what happens on a neuronal level to people as they play, to innovative ideas for gaming that will eventually lead to more and more revolutionary ideas and perhaps even the introduction of virtual reality technologies. And I get to play games and immerse myself in the gaming community at the same time.

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