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A Call to Arms

A short summary of what games were, what they are, and where they might be heading.

Game Developer, Staff

October 9, 2011

3 Min Read

Old games arent promoted on the basis that they're old. Some of these old games will form the foundation of game studies in the future. They are important because they were technical breakthroughs that either birthed or grew genres in unknown ways. There are many games that don't deserve their place and other lesser knowns that do, hail Mame and the research potential.

So many know Nishikado was a financially successful pioneer,  & other people would try and copy/build on his work for the next 5 years following 1978. What about the lesser knowns though, like Xain'd Sleena? Hail Mame Plus Plus & the research potential it brings.

The video games of the future will do just what they did in the arcade era, they will offer emergent gameplay experiences that simultaneously move closer to simulation of what it feels like to be human & non human. This trancendence is a biproduct of seeking an understanding of material objects. Its a scientific curiosity that see's games growing hand in hand with robotics, AI and augmentation. At first it is superficial, just like what happened the early 1900's as the animation industry grew alongside 'normal' films.

Since the 70's, the same has been happening in games. Flight simulators littered arcades in the early 80's, along with platformers. They both offered an outer body experience beyond simply seeing and hearing. In Frogger we controlled a hopping frog with a joystick, but that was just a superficial glance at the chaos of nature and technology living side by side. The evolution of Frogger is Bionic Commando (Grin), where we are swinging carefully through a futuristic city in ruins, being hunted by snipers and robots. Our movements have transended from a simple 4-way joystick to dual analog joysticks with 8 buttons. For many this was too much control, and they hated on the game for it. Red Steel 2 accomplishes the same feat on the Wii, except with motion controls. It demands precise movements, a trait of the samurai. Games are growing up. The general sloppiness of controls litters as many games now as in the past though (after i finish my study i will post accurate numbers). These games should be tossed by the wayside, not given 8's and 9's. Lets remember the late 80's, where fantasy hack n slash games and brawlers dominated arcades. For every Rygar and Final Fight there was a dozen imposters, none with the graphical elegance or controller like charm.

The industry seeks to undermine the importance of player control. They are greedy hoarders, completely selfish and unfit custodians of the genres. when they do give control, its the way an army gives control to soldiers. Guns are subordinate to officer orders. The soldier is the hired gun, without room for free thought, he is simply a robot and a tool for often dubious ends. True democracy is what happens outside of the FPS genre, when freedom in faith offers a player unprecedented control.

We have such a long way to go. Haptic clothing, wearable displays, intertial motion controls, head trackers and convincingly real visuals are still over 20 years away from mainstream gaming adoption, which means i'll be 47 when gaming nears its peak. By then i'll probably be looking forward to other tech though, in an endless hope of the Singularity coming during my lifetime.

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