The Future of Games

as predicted by journalists at SXSWi

The new PlayStation Vita has two touch screens, scads of buttons, a gyroscope, and more. But is this the future or just a hot mess?
The new PlayStation Vita has two touch screens, scads of buttons, a gyroscope, and more. But is this the future or just a hot mess?

It seems obvious for a panel at SXSW Interactive to address the future of a medium, but video games are due for a new generation of consoles. Will motions sensors replace standard controllers? Will consoles be replaced by tablets and other handheld devices? Can we expect the expansion of gaming culture into other aspects of society? Kinda. Not yet. And yes.

Despite some technical glitches, the panel of journalists jumped right into a discussion of motion controllers like Wiimotes and the Kinect gesture sensing technology released for the Xbox. G4’s Morgan Webb pointed out that this trend might alienate hardcore gamers in an attempt to lure new blood to the world of consoles like the PlayStation and . The panel agreed that an influx of players to the medium is a good thing, but wondered if the new technology could be used in a more subtle way. Instead of games that involve more flailing and wild gesticulating, perhaps games like the newly released Mass Effect 3 with its voice commands were a good way to ease those who were raised on multi-buttoned controllers. The all-or-nothing approach to motion control would benefit from a few more examples of a happy medium.

One of my favorite quotes from SXSW Interactive so far has been from Jamin Warren -- founder of game culture magazine, Kill Screen -- who said, “School is already a game, it’s just really poorly designed.” In other words, Going to school and receiving a grade introduces game mechanics of performance and reward to something intrinsically valuable (even if we don’t recognize that as kids). However unlike video games, in school you can proceed to the next level or grade without mastering the required skills. A “D” is a passing, but it’s not going to get you past that killer boss battle in Mega Man. Warren used the Quest to Learn school in New York City as an example of an institution using digital media and ideas behind games to encourage critical thinking and decision-making within complex systems.

Warren ended the talk with a plea to put gaming culture before technological advancements. Make sure that the world knows what’s great about games and how they can be more than just escapism before shoving the latest interactive, seizure-inducing graphical melee down everyone’s throat.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Gaming, SXSW, Screenburn, Jamin Warren, Morgan Webb, future of gaming

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