The Future of Video Games: Where Should We Go From Here?

What does the future of gaming hold? Or rather, what do you WANT it to hold?

When humans decided to strive for the stars, they went out and reached the stars.

Okay, so they didn't actually "reach a star," but you know what I mean: We broke earth's previously inescapable barrier and put out a tentative, probing finger. We sampled what was beyond. We came away with more questions than answers but those questions exist now, and they'll be answered by future generations.

How does this apply to video games? Well, if you really think about it, this is a form of entertainment that's in its infancy stages. It has such a long way to go, and we're only starting to glimpse our proud new advancements.

However, for the purposes of this piece, the question is not "where will we go," but where should we go?"

Is it really just about bigger and more realistic worlds?

The current trend seems clear: make our virtual worlds bigger and more realistic the whole way 'round. Our games are more immersive and dynamic than ever before, despite what some of the old-school purists might think. As a quick side note, the industry has changed so drastically that it's just plain illogical to compare the video games of today to those of two and three decades ago. I mean, we're just talking about  completely different experiences.

Anyway, the point is that the future can't only be about bigger and more realistic, right? There's virtual reality, of course, but I have severe reservations about that. And besides, that also involves enhanced realism. What else might we consider, though? What, besides greater immersion via increased realism? It has to go past a higher resolution and frame rate; the gameplay has to go beyond running around and killing things.

Video games are about interaction. So, perhaps the future of gaming involves the definition of the word "interaction."

For the purposes of legitimacy in the eyes of the art community...

I'll always say video games are an art form. I don't see any other way to categorize them. However, gaming isn't exactly garnering headlines in the leading art-oriented publications and the industry itself appears to have a poor reputation in the eyes of the literati. As a student of the classics and a strong believer in a classical education, maybe the best thing we can do is emphasize the true artistic aspects of this great industry.

Maybe our advancements need to reside in the writing and design categories. Maybe we'll enjoy enhanced interaction when masters of writing and design lend their talents to the industry. There's nothing quite so involving as a perfectly presented story and atmosphere within a unique, fantastical environment. We have the free reign to produce a huge variety of entertainment; there are no limitations in regards to genre or category.

I believe that the technology will inevitably increase, so we shouldn't specifically seek that out. We need to seek out that which is most lacking, and that which could elevate this entertainment medium to another - previously inaccessible - level.

What if the best artists came together with the best science-and-tech?

This is what we should be striving for, in my estimation. What if we combined the excellence of multiple forms of entertainment in gaming? What if we took our best novelists from the world of books, our best composers from the world of music, and the best designers from the art world, and combined them with next-level tech? Like I said, I think the latter will happen, anyway, but what if we incorporate the talents of all types of artists?

In short, I really believe we should be heading in a multi-talented direction. Because gaming feasibly could embrace just about all forms of artistic achievement, I think it should. I'm not interested in purely technological improvements because - and I know this will sound old and stodgy, but whatever - such advancements have no soul. They don't mean much to me on a personal level.

That's what we need to do: Combine what affects us in a deeply personal way (granted by the artistic masters) and the technology we're all convinced will come with time.

What do you think?

Featured Columnist

A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.

Published Apr. 16th 2014
  • dlatoure
    Great post and I agree with a lot of what you say here. I feel that I have a different version of how we should educate people on video games. Though writing and design (if I am using the definition of design that you are using in the piece, hopefully) are important and are artistic in form and the practice, I would promote education that explicitly differentiates video games from other forms of art.

    For me, gameplay and interaction are the key, in which such questions as, "What makes a puzzle game a puzzle game?" or even "What kind of story goes well with an RPG, or a racing game?" All these questions can be discussed by the ways in which designers make their games such that the player responds accordingly. The form and structure of games lies in their gameplay, the pieces that are placed together to produce a certain interaction.

    I think like this because I believe, since interaction and gameplay are the focus of video games as art, video games do not need stories/good stories (Tetris, Super Mario Bros., bit.Trip Runner) but a sound foundation of gameplay mechanics. An emotional narrative is just one out of many aesthetic choices for a game designer but not the defining choice.

    I hope this makes sense but in terms of education, I'd go with educating people about the unique characteristics of video games compared to others mediums where writing and level design are subsets (I hope that didn't come off as if I was demeaning those two facets because I wasn't).

    But I do really agree with your other points; to really believe bigger is better suffocates the freedom of creativity and possibility of form and you hit it right one the head that design should be more focused on interaction (which is why I think that same point can be made with education). And the marriage between science and art is not only crucial but wonderful.

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