The Future of Games (recycled from 2005)

I was trawling through some old documents and stumbled on this one from just over 10 years ago. The message still rings true, even if the recession has shifted the time frame somewhat compared to what I though then.

Games are getting serious

Ian Pearson, August 2005

Games are designed to be fun, but future games might be so much fun that they could start causing big social problems.

Forget the 15 inch monitor most people use today. What we are really talking about for tomorrow’s games is full immersion. Think Star Trek holodeck. Technology by 2020 will allow us to connect our nervous system to our computers, sampling nerve signals and recording every kind of sensation, replaying them in holiday memories, in communications, or in computer games. It will work using active skin, with electronics printed onto the skin, and tiny electronic components painlessly blown into the skin itself using compressed air jets. Some of these devices will link to nerve endings in our skin.

With touch, hearing and vision, computer games will be much more compelling. By 2020, another device that will be routine is the active contact lens, which uses tiny lasers and micro-mirrors to raster scan images straight onto your retina. This will give us a totally immersive 3D display.

Now imagine what people will do with this. With the massive processing and graphics capability of 2020 games machines, people could live all day in a pretty convincing full sensory virtual reality environment., and could live a fantasy life well beyond their real life means. Someone with a lousy real life, but enough pocket money to buy a games console, might effectively drop out of real life apart from eating, drinking, sleeping and going to the loo. And even in those activities, they can have a constant augmented reality overlay to make them more visually appealing.

But in their fantasy worlds, where they can kill everything or have sex with everyone they fancy, their brains might be corrupted to a point where they can no longer easily mix with civilised society. The real world will undoubtedly see more violence and more rape and sexual assaults.

But it doesn’t stop there. By 2030, robotics technology will be much more advanced. Some robots can already walk and dance. Polymer gel muscles and outer coatings will make many future robots look and feel like real people. The androids of science fiction are not long away now.

So how long will it be before the totally inoffensive (but exciting) Robot Wars is replaced by an android version of the Roman gladiator games? We would surely never stoop to using real people again, but why not androids? Even if they do have the latest AI modules with full emotions and self awareness? They are just machines, so who cares?  I really think that line of argument might well hold sway with many people. It is sad, but this century might well see the return of the lowest form of entertainment ever invented by man. Games are getting serious.

 

 

 

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4 responses to “The Future of Games (recycled from 2005)

  1. So what is the timeframe now?

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  2. I don’t see a problem with android gladiators as long as humans make appropriate concessions.
    1. The AI is not housed in the actual droid, it’s setting on the sidelines. Asking anything self aware to fight to the “death” is wrong. We were happy with choreographed wrestlers we’ll manage knowing the gladiators can respawn.

    2. The “pain” sensation, if somehow added, is capped at a level below torturous and on a side note I wouldn’t mind them capping mine a bit too, chronic pain and all.

    3. it’s a 9 to 5 job if they are self aware and have any desire to do something else with their “life”

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    • Thanks Eric. I’d agree to the first one. A lot of AI will reside in the cloud rather than the android and in that case the android itself would be ‘just a machine’, just like today’s robot wars machines driven by a remote intelligence. I don’t think I would accept capped pain unless the level was low. Many sports, even running, have athletes pushing themselves to levels where it can become somewhat painful, and of course we accept them. If it is modest pain, similarly voluntary and balanced with rewards, then I could agree that might be acceptable too. I don’t agree with the 3rd one except as far as it overlaps the second.

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