Video games may be extremely fun for all of us and we just can’t wait for the next big thing to come out, but when everyone sees what the world is capable of producing, they are either going to really love technology or they’re going to crawl into a corner and assume the fetal position. Video games have only been around for about thirty years; that’s back when Pong was super technology. Where we are today is incredible with surround sound, high definition, and compelling computer AI. Every two years, the computer systems become twice as small and twice as powerful. We are going into a generation of super technology where we could just connect our brains to a virtual world, but doing so could potentially hurt us. Would we really want something like that? Well, welcome to the world of the future.
With great games that bring people into new worlds, we need graphics, sound, and smart computer AI to make these worlds believable. With the technology we have today, this is made possible, but it wasn’t always this way. We had to start somewhere. Video games seem like they have been around forever but they really have only been around for about thirty-five years. The first video game concept was first created in 1970 on accident by a couple of scientists. They had gone to a science convention showing off their new inventions’. One of the inventions was a box that let electrical currents pass through by either opening or closing the gate. For some reason, they found that a lot of people were lining up not to see the inventions but to play with it. People found that it’s like tennis for two. The inventors of the creation had no idea it was going to be a game. After they saw this, it opened up a whole new world. After fine-tuning it, they made a contraption with the same concept as the first invention and called it ‘Pong’, the first video game ever created. People from all around had never seen one of these before (Evolution).
History of the Video Game
The company, Nutting Associates, created the first coin-operated video game system in 1970. They called their system, Computer Space. In 1972 the company, Magnavox, created the second system and called it, Odyssey 100. Odyssey 100 was the first system that could be connected to any standard television, unlike Computer Space. This new feature let the consumers play their favorite games in their own house. This new feature also sold over 100,000 systems for one hundred dollars each. It made the company a bundle of money. At the same time Odyssey 100 was released, Atari came out with their new coin-operated system as well. In 1976, Atari came out with the game, “Breakout”, and sold over 15,000 systems. In the same year, a new company, Fairchild Camera and Instrument of California, invented the “Channel F home video game system”. This system was the first that used plug-in cartridges for games. It also had sound and color through the television connection. In 1977, Atari’s system acquired this feature as well. In 1978, the company, Taito, came out with the game, “Space Invaders” in Japan. 350,000 copies of Space Invaders were sold worldwide (Evolution).
In 1981, Nintendo was established with the release of, “Donkey Kong”. In 1985, Nintendo came out with their own system and called it the “Nintendo Entertainment System”. Donkey Kong was considered the best selling game of all time. At this time, video games started to become increasingly popular. That’s when all sorts of companies came out with their own version of a video game system. Some of the systems include, Sony PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Game Boy, Super Nintendo, and many more (Evolution).
Video games have progressed quite a bit since they were first invented in 1970. Over the years the graphics and sound have become more and more advanced. We are now at the point where graphics and sound are so realistic that it makes players feel like they are in the game. If we have gotten this far in only about thirty-five years, can anybody even imagine what the future of gaming will be like? Now that we are up to date with what was created to get us to today, why don’t we now see some possibilities of the future? Well by looking at how fast we have progressed, what current technology is available, and what is currently being worked on, we can get a glimpse of what is possible in the future. Why don’t we now take a look at some technology that is currently out and see what would happen if we incorporated them into a video game system?
With the current technology, such as wireless and online gaming, we can make gaming a more enjoyable experience. Online gaming lets the player connect to the internet to compete or play together with millions of other players around the world. This feature lets people connect to a server instead of having a friend come over to your house to play the game. This also lets people play with people they have never met before so they can always find a more challenging competitor and allow the game to evolve. Bluetooth is a device that lets the computers talk wirelessly within a certain range. This has recently been incorporated into Playstation 3 systems that let the users have wireless controllers. The system supports up to seven controllers at the same time. Now that the system uses Bluetooth, there is no need for those pesky wires. The player now has the freedom to move around without being a prisoner to only six feet. Bluetooth is also used in headsets so the player can communicate with other players online. This makes the gaming experience a lot more enjoyable. I remember back when the controllers only gave six feet of cord. This always bothered me because I could never get a comfortable position when lying. I had to sit up close to the television instead of relaxing back into the couch like I can today with wireless technology.
Emotions Incorporated Into Games
There is other technology that is available but not incorporated into video games yet. One of the features which is going to be released within the next year or two is player emotion recognition. This feature would allow the computer to be able to pick up the players current emotion/expression and alter the gaming environment according to the player’s mood. I personally think this is scary stuff, but on the other hand it will definitely make the gaming a whole of a lot more fun. There are a few ways the computer can pick this up. The first way the computer can pick it up is with facial expressions with a camera. The computer takes a picture of the player’s face and puts virtual points of interest on the players face. Points of interest are areas on a face that move when a person creates an expression. For an example on points of interest, the computer would put points on the edges of the mouth, eyes, eyebrows, and on the cheeks. The computer puts many other points around the face as well. When a human makes a facial expression, parts of the face move. The computer then sees the points that moved and it searches its database to match the expression to where the points have just moved. According to tests, the computer is 98% accurate with this reading. Another way the computer can pick up on emotion is through tone of voice. The computer has microphones on them and they record what people say. In a really fast manner the computer maps out what you said and puts points on certain words. Depending on how fast you said it, certain accents on words, and loudness in certain parts, the computer can figure out your current emotional state by the way it was spoken. This kind of technology can change the gaming experience forever. Now yelling at the computer characters or frowning at them could cause them to respond to your action. Now that is what I call being part of the game (Walton).
Brain Controlled Controllers
Another feature that is currently being worked on is controlling the video game with your brain waves. Now that sounds like it’s straight from a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? The device is called the “Cerebus”. This feature has been proven to work but it’s not even close to being ready for released to the public. The reason why it’s not released yet is because it is way too big, difficult to put on, and doesn’t look very pretty. People are currently working on a way to make it more user friendly. The way it works is it picks up the brain waves from on top of the scalp and it uses Bluetooth instead of using wires. It has six distinctive types of nodes placed on the occipital lobes on the back of the head. The occipital lobes are the area that processes light into something we understand. Its how we see. The test that was done was a person put the Cerebus on their head and viewed a screen that had a character walking on a tight rope. There were two boxes on either side of the screen that flashed at certain frequencies. Depending on which box the player focused on, the character would move in that direction. Cerebus picked up on the flashing and the computer knew which area the player was looking at. The flashing frequency was so high that a human couldn’t tell the difference between the two, but Cerebus, which was connected to occipital lobes, could tell the difference. This is a feature that can probably be seen in the video game industry in the future, when it has been worked on more and has become more advanced. When this comes out, I am definitely going to buy one of these. Being able to play my favorite video games hands-free is the best feature ever (Twist).
Video game controllers are different for every system. That means whenever someone plays a new system, they have to get used to the button structure. This can create a time consuming and frustrating problem. When a hands free system is released, video games will become a lot easier for everyone. Since it will be controlled with your thoughts, you would just move the character with ways you would normally move your body thus eliminating the complicated controllers since it would be universal for all systems. People who aren’t great with technology will find this a lot easier to use.
Looking Into the Future
Now that we know what has already been created and what is currently being worked on, let’s now look into the future and make educated guesses for what the future holds. We know that video games have only been around for about thirty-five years and we are pretty advanced today. We also know that every two years computers become twice as small and twice as powerful. So in the next few years we are going to most likely have a hand-held device as powerful as a Playstation 3 and as small as a Nintendo DS. Currently the PS3 is the most powerful computer available to the public. Also the 3G Generation would have moved into 4G. When 4G comes out we are going to have download speeds as fast as 100mbit/s anywhere. That’s thirty times faster than what we have now. Currently there are circuits as small as a human hair (Wong).
Everyone as well as me will enjoy 4G. We will be able to download anything to our hand-held devices really fast. 3G is a decent speed at the moment. I own a PSP, Playstation Portable, and it goes with me everywhere. The PSP is a system that lets me play games, watch movies, listen to music, look at pictures, and browse the Internet. I could buy games and movies for it, but what if I want demos or online movies. Since it is a portable device, I would need to download the extra content for it. Since we are in 3G, large file sizes could move at painful speeds. It could take hours to download just one movie. But with 4G, it would only take minutes to have an online movie in the palm of my hands.
Virtual Reality Headsets
By the time it’s 2018 we are going to have circuits as small as a molecule. The only downside with making the device smaller is the screen as well gets smaller. The solution to this is VRD (Virtual Retina Display). VRD is a system that is currently being worked on in the University of Washington that will cast images directly into your eyeball. “The idea right now is for Heads-Up Displays for pilots and soldiers and such, but it’ll be just a matter of making it small enough and cheap enough for the rest of us. By 2018, a device, no more intrusive than a pair of sunglasses with Bluetooth, should be able to put you right into a virtual world that fills your whole field of vision.” This type of technology won’t be as realistic as people think. This will put the home console just as useful as landlines are for cell phones. When and if this is released, video games will be controlled with our minds and viewed in the eyes (Wong).
By the time its 2023, the wireless mind controlled controller will be developed enough to be released and incorporated into video games. “This is where it all starts to sound like science fiction, but tell that to these people who are already developing a brain-computer interface…” At this time, assuming we are moving at the same rate, we will be able to have a computer as powerful as a human brain available for under a thousand dollars. Also the VRD will be powerful enough to display graphics as good as high-definition (Wong).
Minds and Machines Become One
At this time we are starting to get to the point where humans become a part of virtual reality instead of just viewing it. Currently humans interact with computers by telling them what to do, meaning we are sending information to the computer. By 2025, the interaction will be complete, meaning not only are we sending information to the computer but also the computer will be sending information back. For example, if a character in the game kicks the player, the computer will send information into the player’s brain that the player just got kicked. Obviously the player wasn’t really kicked, but the brain will think so. The body could react to that by starting the inflammatory response in the area it thinks it got kicked. The body will also try to heal the area even though it wasn’t even harmed. This could be quite dangerous because that means whatever happens in the virtual world, the brain thinks really happened. A more serious instance could be if the player was drowning in the game. No water would really be getting into the player’s lungs, but the brain would think so and it might constrict airflow to the lungs causing the body to suffocate. This is a very scary matter and I’m not sure if I support this type of technology advancement. It may be getting a little to close to the movie, “The Matrix”.
Science Fiction or Science Fact
In the Movie, “The Matrix” everyone is hooked up to a computer and their mind’s are in a virtual world. People who are connected think they are in the real world when really they are in a computer. The only people who know the truth are the people who were un-plugged from the system. That is a movie and right now just science fiction but if this technology comes out, it may well become a reality. People would enter the virtual world to do things they couldn’t normally do in the real world and anything done in the virtual world will seem exactly like the real thing. People could skydive without the risk, fight monsters that would never really exist, or to fulfill sexual desires and fantasies. This would obviously be what almost everybody would probably do. What would be the big deal? Well I’ll tell you. First of all, this would be so perfect that no body would ever want to leave. Second, what if someone hacked the computer. They could erase humans forever with the push of a button. They could also alter the laws of physics and create huge problems because remember, all a virtual world is, is computer software. Last of all, if people had sex in a virtual would, they would have virtual babies. Now these babies wouldn’t be connected to a system, they would be apart of the system. If people are having kids in the virtual world, the human population would dramatically drop. People would be having virtual children instead of having real children. When our bodies eventually die off, we will still be connected to the system. Eventually the entire human population would be nothing but a data file on a computer hard drive. As years would go on, people would forget where they really came from and people would think of themselves in a real world instead of a virtual world. The world would keep on spinning and people would never know.
The Future is Unknown
We could keep going on and try to figure out what the future holds after 2025 but the further we look into the future the less credible it becomes. In about five years from now we will have more information on where we are going so we can have better estimates for what the future holds.
From what you have seen, video games and technology are the big thing out now. We have come a long way from when it all started in 1970. Since then our computers, graphics, sound, and artificial intelligence have become more powerful. Computer technology tends to become twice as fast and twice as small every two years. Just by taking in the past and present we could predict an accurate future. We are going into a generation of super technology. As we become more advanced, some things created help us and make things easier for us while some creations can become quite dangerous. We should be careful with what we create and use. Creating a virtual world that we can connect to can have many beneficial perks. It could be used as a training ground, place to learn, socialize, or for shear entertainment. But, if we were connected to a virtual world that could potentially hurt us, would we really want that? Advancement is very useful, but when it gets to the point where it becomes life threatening, that’s where I put my foot down. Technology’s main purpose created is to help us. The second it becomes harmful, we should reverse course. Also if we connect to a system people would not want to leave; that could wipe out the entire human population. This could have already happened and we just don’t even realize it. How could we really know if we are connected? We don’t want to end up like the movie, “The Matrix”; it didn’t have a happy ending. Like I said before, my job isn’t to force people to accept, but to inform people what the world is capable of. Now that people are aware of what is going on, we can better prepare ourselves for the future. Get ready, because here it comes.
“The Evolution of Video Game Consoles.” Gamesinc. 16 Feb 2009
Twist, Jo. “Brain waves control video game.” BBC News. 24 March 2004. 25 February 2009.
Walton, Jason. “Methods of Emotion Recognition.” Emotion and Computers. 2000. 16 Feb 2009
Wong, David and Steve Woyach. “The Next 25 Years of Video Games.” Cracked. 2007. 16 Feb 2009