Final Paper

All video games need a means of control for the player; for many years the controller has provided the means to control, but in the last few years this has started to change. New technology is quickly making the handheld controller obsolete. This is something that has happened just over the past few years; 10 years from now our means of control will be very different from what they are now.
The console first appeared on the market with the Atari 2600 in 1977. The Atari used a very basic form of input; a simple controller with a joystick and a single button. For almost 30 years controllers where the primary form of input for games; the controller has evolved and gotten more complicated, but it’s still a controller. Within the past few years the use of the controller has started to change. The WII was the first console to change how the controller was used. With the WII a person can point or move the controller to interact with the game, instead of just pushing buttons or moving joysticks.
Shortly after the WII was proven a success on the market, the two competing companies (x-box, and play station) started work on their own form of motion control. Playstation came up with the Playstation move, and x-box came up with the x-box kinect. Each of these devices changes player control from a standard controller to sensing player movement and gestures. This is the new course player input is going to take. Since these are still newer technologies they still have their flaws. 10 years from now companies will have mastered this new technology, and the market will be packed with games that utilize player movement as input.
However, there will be a group of hardcore gamers who won’t put down their old style controllers. As with each leap in technology the market will always have those who don’t like change. There are also groups who believe that technology like the kinect and move are just a passing phase. History actually backs up this argument. While I stated earlier that controllers have been the primary interface for over 30 years, there have been a few attempts to change this. Some of the most noteworthy are games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. Both of these types of games changed how the controller was used. In the case of Dance Dance Revolution the controller was a floor pad that a player stood on; there were sensors in the pad which recognize when a player steps onto certain areas. Even though the pad was essentially still a controller it did make the player move their body to interact with the game. But, this way of interacting didn’t last long before it was passed up by better and newer technology. Gamers who won’t change do only count for a small population of the consumer world. With this fact their stubbornness won’t stop the progression and evolution of video game interface. There is another augment which backs up this group’s opinion of game interface, and that is; gamers are inherently lazy.
These groups will not stop the progression of player input. The truth is: Kinect, move, and WII aren’t passing phases; in fact they are the predecessor’s movement reading technology. 10 years from now these technologies will be mastered. The market will be full of games that read and react to player’s movement and gestures. Right now these games are played on a single flat screen, but as technology reaches higher definition game companies will strive to make their games feel more and more enveloping. They will do this by changing the single screen format, into something closer to what’s seen in movies like Gamer, or the video walls in Fahrenheit 451. When this is matched with player movement recognition technology it will give a game a truly life-like feeling.
There are a few forms of video game interface which are currently in their experimental stage, but it stands to reason that in 10 years some of these interfaces may come to the market. One of these devices is the EEG controller. This controller is a halo which has sensors that can pick up various brain waves. The device interprets waves and moves the avatar accordingly. As stated this device is still in its experimental stage, but it stands to reason that in 10 years this device could make it to the market. Gamers could interact with their games through pure though. This is one piece of technology that the “purists” might embrace, mainly since this taps right into the laziness of gamers.
Another area of experimentation is the creation of 3d digital interactive environments. The technology for this is still in its early stages. And this is mainly accomplished by modding the Kinect. This is the idea: projecting 3d objects onto solid objects, and then through movement recognition a player can interact with those objects. The player doesn’t require any hardware or gloves to interact; it’s entirely done though the movement and position of the player’s body. In a decade these technologies can be mastered. This truly adds a whole new dimension to games. Players will see games on the market that project and entire 3d setting into players play space. Then the player navigates the play space and interacts as they would with actual solid objects. Imagine an adventure game where a player holds a 3d projected sword and must fight against an armored knight. A player uses 3d projected rocks as cover or they pick up a handful of 3d projected dirt to throw into the opposing knights face. With this type of game the idea of the controller disappears completely. The phrase, “You are the controller” will become outdated and simply understood for these types of games.
Many of these possibilities for the future are steps toward a holodeck. While we will be greatly closer to this in 10 years, it won’t be perfect. Programmers are still limited in the amount of fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence they can program into a game. While these games might be close to the holodeck in interaction and feeling, the programs themselves won’t be complex enough to full replicate a holodeck. But with trends the way they are, it seems that this technology might be available in the further future (past the 10 year mark).
With all these possibilities for the future, the gaming world will be very different from where it is now. And while there will still be people who view games from old media perspective, it won’t stop games from becoming more mainstream and recognized as art and leaps in technology. Player interaction and feeling like part of the game will become the driving force of the progress in game technology; it’s with this that players will see the change and evolution of game input. Until one day we do enter a holodeck.

Post Author: Nate.Crumpley

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