Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Signs and Omens

The games industry is going through some very big changes at the moment. I think things will be quite different in a couple of years and my evidence for this is kind of diverse and unrelated. It's almost the kind of nonsense that Dirk Gently talks about in those lovely books by Douglas Adams.

The first is the plight of Game. A chain-store selling the general public games. It's little more than a collection of shelves and a till. I'd always hoped that they'd have the sense to see what was coming as the Virgin Megastores, Zavvi's and HMV's struggled with the ditital distribution of music. Surely they knew that games were just another digital format and that they too needed a strategy to keep trading.
To be fair they did have a strategy, second hand games, exclusive content and ridiculous collector editions. Short term, short sighted ways to drain cash out of the industry and feast on the nerdy cash reserves of Mr. Gamer. What they should have done was provide better service, sell games more competitively, act as a friendly face of gaming offering enthusiastic advice and solid technical knowhow. Still that lesson has long since been ignored and soon games will have lost their most visible high street presence. I'm not sure it matters too much for the games industry. If there's business there then someone will fill that void. Just remember all the stores that appeared to fill the void that Woolworths left behind. Hey, maybe even some of the indy game stores might make a healthy return and provide the kind of service we've been missing for so many years?
But the overall lesson here is that it's hard to run a business selling big console games to console gamers. The frightening thing about that is that those gamers are an easy sell, when it comes to COD or Battlefield, Halo or FIFA. But that business can't sustain a chainstore. That's not a good sign for the console industry is it?

Now I'm going to talk about Peter Molyneaux. Lots has been said about this man, and I'm no expert. For the sake of my argument I'm going to focus on a potted history (that conveniently supports my arguements). Peter was instrumental in creating the God game genre. Not many people are genre creators. Peter build an innovative company and worked on home computers, finally settling with the PC as the sturdiest of platforms. At Bullfrogs peak the PC was the most powerful gaming platform, it was nimble and upgradable and simply attracted those designers who wanted to innovate and create. Then the cycle of hardware shortened to a fightening degree. It got tougher and tougher to keep up. And along side this, the console manufacturers had gotten their acto together. They were appealing to a wider audience, they offered stability in terms of a development environment, and they were so copetitive that they crammed high spec components in their boxes and shipped them out at a fraction of the cost of a good PC. About this time Peter left Bullfrog and started Lionhead with some fresh ideas and interesting projects. The PC side gradually faded out and Lionhead threw in with the new kid. It's been a good time but something has come to disrupt the endless cycle of console generations succeeding each other like feudal kings. Suddenly gaming has gone truly mainstream. Smartphones are powerful, convenient, easy to use and your Mum, Dad, little sister and cousins are playing and sometimes buying games. The change is as fundemental as the rise of console gaming and Peter has left Lionhead and started at a new company 22cans. You may doubt my analysis but you'd be foolish to doubt Peters intuition on these things.

I'm now going to briefly talk about Playstation Vita. I think this an important console, not because of it's lovely tech and it's gaming pedigree, but because of the general attitude towards it. Vita is a classic console sequel. It's bigger, it's more powerful, it's higher resolution, it's got a couple of quirky new features. It's everything you'd do if you knew your audience and you'd like them to upgrade. But something has changed. I'm not aware of the excitement. I do know 3 people that have bought them. And as far as consoles go, the lineup of launch software was varied and generally good quality even if there wasn't really a 'killer app'. So it's followed the classic new console formula to the letter. Ticked all the boxes and failed to fly off the shelves. I think the reason for that is the markets changed. Just as we all grew sick and tired of Big Brother to the point is actually went off air for a bit, it feels to me as if all the young gamers are bored of the console cycle. It's not cool and dangerous any-more. It's not about nightcubs, rebellious new media and violent games, it's become the establishment. The big news stories are about your email address being stolen, and signing into your account to download the license that let you play the game you bought. It's not not jumping into a car late at night and finding adventure it's more about queueing for tickets and finding that if something is fun you probably need to pay a bit extra for it.
Sometime in the next couple of years new consoles will be announced and will launch. I thin the Vita experience might just be the first symptom of a wider disease and what we will actually see is the last generation of home consoles.

Now how about some Raspberry Pi? Designed to bring home computing back home, to encourage a new generation to create and explore and take part in the world of games. An affordable dev kit to empower enthusiasts. To me this marks another sense of dissatisfaction with the current platforms and what they offer. It's trying to return gaming to creative rather than corporate people. It seems like agreat idea but it is disruptive and powerful. It's like all those books written by monks and locked away in monastries then suddenly the printing press is invented and normal people have access to literature. I might be overstating that a little but I hope you can see the similarities.

Big black boxes under your TV are an old mans vision of the future. What people want is something lighter, something with more promise. Despite the recession, people want to run towards the future not stick with something traditional and dogged. The best news is that there will be more games than ever before and more people making games. I'm sure the big games will stick around for quite some time but they will become a specialist niche rather than the dominant force. The new way of doing things will doubtless have it's own problems. I think there are enough warnings in the wind for the console manufacturers to adapt. I don't expect that they will, but there is still a chance for them to stay in the running. And if they don't then that might just leave enough of a gap for something new and exciting to fill the space, something like the next Raspberry Pi or a virtual platform like OnLive?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Holy Batman

There is an obsession with games and stories. In general I think that gamers don't give a hoot about story but they do crave a context and consequence to their actions in the game. Lots of games struggle to give their actions a reason or a wider meaning and the player feels like they are going through the motions, rather than achieving. In a new game the world and it's rules have to be established and at the same time it has to show the player what hey can do in the world. While all this is happening the game has to keep the player entertained. Drop any one of these balls as you juggle them and the player will get dissatisfied and abandon the game for a new distraction.

One of the smartest things a game could do is start with a known quantity. Start with an established world and an established character with well understood abilities. The player would then be able to focus on how to play.

So this is what Rocksteady did. A very clever move. But their Batman games could easily have been like so many licensed games, using the protagonist as a crutch to prop up a game that they already knew how to make. I think what they did was something quite remarkable.

The Rocksteady guys know Batman. What they chose to do was to bring the Batman that they knew to the game. And the people who play the game and know the Batman will know this is the character that has been established for over 70 years. (As a side note, there will be a Batman long after people have forgotten Marcus Fenix, Master Chief or Nathan Drake). There must have been greenlight meetings and discussions with marketing where Rocksteady spoke about vague but powerful concepts such as 'feeling' like the Batman, about the Batmans motivation and his responses to a situation, about being authentic to the spirit of Batman. These kinds of vague concepts scare the tar out of business people, but let me tell you, this is the very stuff that makes the Arkham games stand out. So I should also thank Warner Brothers for having enough faith in Rocksteady to trust them with making a Batman game the way it should have always been made.

The first and most important feature is Detective Vision. If you or I walked into a room and it was full of thugs, we'd last about a half minute. The Batman eats that sort of situation for breakfast. The questio is how can the player feel like Batman but not have the fight choreographed or played as an interactive cut-scene. This needs a design solution and so we come to detective vision. It allows the player to see through walls, to identify oppponents and how they are armed. The player can plan an attack in an approximation of the choices the Batman would make in that situation. Combined with the Batmans grapple and some scenery to allow Batman to disappear and suddenly each encounter is a playground for the player to be Batman. It is very satisfying to pick off the opponents one by one and it feels like the Batman going to work just like he does in the movies, comics and books.

But this freedom would make a poor game. If the Batman could always skip away and recover his health the game loses it's challenge. So the game uses an intelligent mechanic that recognises when you start a combat. For the duration of the fight your energy bar is finite, when the fight is complete the game replenishes it. Each fight becomes a moment to moment battle, but the game is not reduced to a series of guerilla skirmishes. It's the sort of solution that you almost ignore, and thats because it works so well.

The game is full of stuff like this. Take the grappling hook and Batmans gliding. It's an incredibly powerful manouver yet it takes some practice. The game doesn't artificially stop you using it, instead it is built to cope with the player doing what they want. And the freedeom encourages you to experiment and push the limits of what Batman can do.

There's so much attention to detail it's impossible not to be impressed. The Catwoman costume is taken from the Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke run of the Catwoman comic. The Penguin has had a fantastic original makeover that seems to be in the spirit of Azzarello and Bermejo's Joker graphic novel. Gotham itself is a patchwork of some of the most famous landmarks from that city. Some of the incredible architectural design work that was done by Anto Furst for the Tim Burton Batman movies (and then incorporated back into the comics) seems to be the inspiration for the Wonder city segment of Gotham. Then there are some great but underused characters like Deadshot, Hugo Strange, Azrael and Ras A Guhl. I got a thrill just seeing them in the game. And the little touches that showed a knowledge of the Batman books kept coming. The ninja bodyguards of Talia had costumes that are based on Lady Shiva one of the greatest and deadliest martial artists in the DC Universe. It's a touch that most people won't appreciate but I got a real kick out of. It's an attention to detail that shouts quality. I think this sort of quality shines through, so anyone that plays the game will feel the quality even if they don't appreciate the subtleties.

And it's not a perfect game. For example I think the characters with jamming devices that ruin Batmans Detective vision is too gamey. It makes sense as part of the game but it doesn't entirely make sense of Batmans abilities. I hat that you can't fly down to ground level from the top of the Wonder tower. I can see things that will be improved as the series progresses.

But more importantly I have hopes that Rocksteady expands in the future. The DC Universe is vast and ripe for  more games made with this same care and attention. Even in gotham there are loads of options, The Demon - Etrigan (and his host Jason Blood) live in Gotham, The Huntress, Nightwing, Red Robin. It's not a huge jump to imagine a Green Arrow game, or harnessing some of the racing studio talent in the UK and making a Flash game. That doesn't even take into account the things you can do with Batman that follow recent comics. Grant Morrison established an international network of Batmen in Batman Incorporated. It's an idea that would allow Rockstar to expand beyond the confines of Arkham and create more diversity in a Batman title. It's very hard to contain my excitement now someone has made a credible comic book game.

I hope very much that Warner Brothers understands the potential that Rocksteady have created. I hope they choose to invest and expand and make more of their properties. And I hope they appreciate that by giving their characters to people who show respect and have the skill to make a game that stays true to the concept they are building a very strong future.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hard work - making bad games?

Crunch is the inevitable conclusion to a games project. The argument is that a well planned project shouldn't need overtime or late nights. I think that crunch is impossible to avoid because it's human nature. The deadline to submit the game is exactly the same as the first night of a show, or the final exam or packing your case for a long holiday. The truth is if the 'test' is something you care about you want to do the best you can and because we believe in hard work we like to keep working as late as possible hoping that the extra effort will make the final result more favourable.
The games industry is generously decorated with stories about features being dumped into games at the last minute. Invariably the features are essential or pivotal or what made the game so successful. I'm sure you'll find the stories about Links spin attack in the Zelda games and the radar in Elite if you're not sure what I'm talking about. I'm sure that these stories are true, but lets be realistic here. Developers are hardly going to tell you stories of the games that were messed up by changes made at the last minute. Even if they did, would you believe them? Wouldn't you just think 'idiot', wasn't it obvious this was wrong. Still the last minute miracle is a fond and powerful belief in game development.
I also believe that hard work, putting in the hours feels good. Like when you work out at the gym or order a salad instead of pie and chips. There's a protestant work ethic, a masochistic pleasure in working through tough times. I think this works on several levels. First of all there's a team spirit feel, pitching in against the odds (even if the odds were stacked against you by yourself). Secondly the crunch is a time in a project when you all have piles of work to do and you can make progress. Everyday you have a full set of tasks and by the end of the day you've made significant contributions to finishing the project. That feels good. Another factor is bonus. Often a team has some cash incentive tied to finishing the game on time. Earning cash is always worth a bit of hard work.
Lets just recap a minute. I'm saying people like working hard when they feel they are making significant contribution, when they can be given a clear set of tasks that they can achieve, when they are working for a valued reward and when they are part of a team.
Games are entertainment and much to the annoyance of the business guys who supply the cash, it's not a predictable result. When you start making a game you assume that some things are going to 'work' but they don't always and then you have to 'fix' them. this takes time. Time you didn't plan to spend. If you don't keep your eye on the ball, if you didn't start with a strong idea about what your game is about at the start then these nasty surprises are bound to happen. They will define your game and you'll spend more time returning to them to work on them. The problem with this is that the time spent here is spent shoring up the game, rather than pushing it forward. It's a matter of bringing up the worst parts up to standard.
The danger here is that the hard work is spent making something that's just 'alright'. The hard work can cover up flaws in design and planning.
Here's the danger. A project can pass into crunch period and the team can work hard, possibly even feeling good about doing the work but the result of the extra hours may just be making a bad design or plan - less bad. Quite frankly that isn't good enough. There's nothing I dispise more than waste. wasted talent, wasted energy, wasted work. At the moment the only solutions I can see, have to be made when the foundations of the game are laid. That means the team can be signed up to make a game bound to fail. All their best efforts will just make up for poor design and planning.
We really need to throw the responsibility for this situation back on the people who agree to make a game. Those unknown executives in the grrenlight meetings approving funding for game X,Y and Z. Why aren't those people held responsible for the decisions that they make. Why don't they try harder to understand what makes a game successful and how they can spot that potential earlier on. Instead they throw money around (or withhold it) without any consequence.
Where are our equivalents to the X-factor judges? Were are our talent scouts who can see the 14yr old footballers that will become the next Rooney or Beckham? Where are the sackings for those managers who consistently back losers or push mediocre games forwards, while great games go unmade?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Design or excuse?

I've worked on developing games on various platforms and very often something crops up that makes my tiny brain explode. It's one of those things that feels like it's come out of Catch 22 or some other distopian nightmare.
Some very cleverpeople go away and in their fevered black magic covens, they create a new bit of hardware. Then they show it off and announce it and then they give it to the game designers. Sounds fine doesn't it? I mean they want games for their new hardware so they should hand it over to a designer when that little job needs doing, and they can then go back into their chambers and work on the next machine for about five years time.
But recently the trend is to make strange things.
These are things you didn't ask for and your not sure what they are for. I don't want to pin a blame tail on a particular donkey here because each of the big donkeys has their own version of this, but how about I give you some examples?
Well there was the controller without a 'rumble' feature but with tilt recognition. The handheld with a camera facing in and out. How about a webcam that can track your movements as long as you're standing up. Or a device that you can control by touching a part of it that you can't see.
At some point someone in the corporate chain thought that these are excellent features and we should not hold them back from the public any longer. And hey presto new hardware is created with a headline grabbing novelty feature! Then the journalists who like new hardware stories and want big new headlines ask about the new novelty feature. What is it for? Will it usher in a new golden age of gaming. And in response the big corporation feeds them the idea that they wrote on the back of a fag packet when they put the feature in.... Oh it can be used for X but we're excited to see what our brilliant game designers come up with.
The thing is, if it takes a genius to come up with a great and novel use for new hardware feature X it's really not much of a feature. If however you can think of 50 great ways to use the feature it's a real winner and is likely to be used in different and remarkable ways by everyone who wants to make games on your new hardware. It's really that simple. If it's hard to tink of 3 ways to use it, it's a pretty rubbish feature and you are going to be disappointed, in fact the feature will vanish and probably never return in future hardware iterations.
So is it just that designers are lazy and not doing thier job? Well I like to think of it more as a really unfunny, expensive version of 80's panel show - 'Whose Line is it Anyway'. Where the hardware boffins are like Clive Anderson throwing out random crap to their panelists (the designers) and asking them to create comedy gold. Yes sometimes it works, but mainly it's just OK, or forgettable or downright embarassing.
Real world examples?
Again let me stress I'm not out to make scapegoats here but:
Lair - a terrible game from a company that made pretty good games in this genre until they were asked to support a feature. And feature support was more important than creating a great game.
Joyride - see above
In fact i'm already bored of this.
What people want is great games. They don't really care about the new hardware features unless they improve their experience. And lets face it, if, when you're building the game, you use the traditional controls on a day to day basis and only switch to the new hardware features as a last resort, it means the new bits aren't great.
Please stop foisting 'features' on designers and then chaining them to the albatross as it's lifeless corpse drags them to the ocean depths.
We want cool new stuff don't we? Designers love shiney new hardware features to test to the limits. So what needs to happen is that designers are involved right from the get go - designing new hardware features. If your tame designers can't think of dozens of new ways to make their games better with the new hardware feature then the chances are it's a oven ready Dodo.
At present the headlines grabbed by the new features are a short-term gimic. They soon get found out to be shallow and pointless, but you have to keep building them in to the hardware for years to come. Save the silicon and do the work up front. Find out if it's a gimic or a genuine improvement by involving the people who are going to have to use it from the get go.
We are designers, people. We are not here to build the excuses for your technical folly!

Monday, 1 August 2011


Last time I wrote I was talking about some people that inspired me. It was about the creative people that make me want to make. Importantly those people didn't really include anyone from the games industry because I'm not sure of the virtues of canabalism.
This time I'd like to talk about my working life. I didn't leave school and start making games. I've had a couple of decent jobs before I got into the game industry and I think my experiences in those careers taught me something pretty valuable. Once again i'd say that bringing a varied experience to games is a benefit. New perspectives and ways of working help open up the future of making games and challenge our thinking.
When I left school I went away to train to be a teacher. Teaching is about getting information across to your pupils and ideally making it entertaining enough so that it sticks. In addition a teacher establishes the rules of their classroom so that the pupils feel secure and everyone has equal opportunity to learn. A teacher designs experiences for his class tailoring them to the needs of the set of individuals that happen to be in that group at that time.
I learned at Exeter University and one of the most important elements of the course was the 'reflective teacher'. What this meant was that instead of rushing headlong from day to day wondering why things weren't going as planned you'd sit down and look at some things to improve. Try them out the next day. Take a step forward, take a step back. Keep trying and keep pushing to improve. I really think that it's something that is built into me. Some people say that I think too much. The important thing is to think constructively, stop just reacting, make a plan, test it out. I am still amazed that a game takes anything between 9 months and a year to produce and yet there is so much that is decided on the spur of the moment. Planning is almost always a few days before you plunge in, and the biggest culprits are the guys with the most to lose. I'm sure they'd say it was reactine to the fast pace of the industry but it feels more like an excuse to dither and defer important decisions until the last minute. theadvantage here is that you can look descisive and dynamic where the truth is you wouldn't need to be if you'd made a robust plan and stuck to it. (Whoops, started ranting).
After teaching I worked for Toyota, on the factory line spraying cars. Toyota was a good experience for me. What can't be underestimated was that it was physical work and I worked shifts. I soon appreciated what a days work could be like. A car passed down the line every 185 seconds and even though the work was repetitive I was never short of anything to do. When I started work testing games I sat down all day and was genuinely terrified that someone would see me just playing and breaking games, then sack me. Took me over a year to stop looking over my shoulder. I learned to fill my time, and I learned to be frustrated when hard work didn't solve all the problems.
Toyota believed in a process of tiny improvements. They asked for these improvements from the people doing the job. The tiny improvements helped the people who worked on the line, they were cheap and were trialed before they were implemented. (Trialing new ideas to see if they work before you commit seems smart when the same mistake repeated every 185 seconds will give you almost 300 errors per shift per day). The improvements allowed the people working to be invested in their job and they benefitted from their interest. Seems there's something to be learned there.
Toyota was a factory making quality cars repeatedly. Because I could do my work automatically I could spend a decent portion of my shift thinking about games. After four years I was ready for a new challenge and at the time Toyota was full of very able staff. At this point I decided to apply for jobs that I'd like to do. A few months later Rare took me on as a tester.
Testing was a good base for a designer. As a tester you try to break games. There is a creative element to test to really try to do things wrong to cause problems. the important bit is that you get to see how those problems are fixed and often they are design choices. You can learn quite a lot about the way games are actually built and the thought processes behind them.
To be honest there isn't really a time when you can't learn. And it is important to learn how not to do things as well as the right way to do them.
Many young people who want to work in games apply for university courses. I'm not convinced that this is the best way to be what they want to be. It's more important to get a broader experience of life and bring that experience to bear on games. This will expand games. It will bring successful work practice from industry into the creative games industry. And all the time you can build games - games out of paper and dice, games with free software or modifications of games. It's really important to understand why games work, what mechanics are used to keep the playwrs interest and what appeals to a player. Also value your failures - there are lessons to be learned in failure if you can stand to look back and identify the mistakes.
These things are swirled through me like a slice of marble cake. They inform my design decisions and I hope they give my most ridiculous ideas a connection to practical considerations. It's nothing to imagine something fantastic, the real task is making it work.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Making games should be easy. Everyone knows how to have fum, you just need to put that stuff into a game and wait for the cash to roll in. It's the same for comedians too, everyone knows how to laugh so a comedians job should be simple. I mean the streets are clogged with great comedians, can't catch a bus without hearing a hilarious one liner.
But things aren't quite so simple, damn it.
Designing is about a ideas, a vision, an understanding of how to pin those two things down and some luck. I'm pretty sure that applies to all design not just games design.
So lots of you have played games and know what you like, and currently what you'd like is some more of the games that you enjoy the most. So maybe games design is as simple as grabbing the best games dismantling them and then rebuilding them 'better'. It's an analysts job.
The truth is that if you canabalise games and never reach beyond that, you just dig yourself into a hole. You'll keep the most hardcore of your fans but they will decrease over time as they realise that they are just buying the same thing time after time.
That said it's hard to ignore the way games are put together, and the way that they solve problems. A designer would be a fool to ignore well thought out solutions to common issues. It'd be like inventing a cart and deciding on square wheels because all the other vehicles have round wheels. Although I admit it's not always easy to see whether something is a timeless classic or a incredibly fashionable fad, without a few years of hindsight.
So where should games designers get their inspiration from? To be honest it doesn't matter but I'd strongly suggest other games shouldn't be the first port of call. As an example consider the phenomenom of Guitar Hero. The genesis of that game was a love of music and a desire to let the player feel as if they were playing their favourite rock songs. The designers identified the joy in the experience of playing a guitar and translated it into something that could be played and enjoyed by a wider audience.
Since i started making games for a living i can't stop looking at what people enjoy, try to prise it apart to find out what aspects of it makes it enjoyable and then see if I can impose a set of rules that might make the good experience into a compelling game idea.
On top of this unnatural habit of trying to pick 'fun' apart there are some people who inspire. These people are creative to the point where they change their chosen field forever, and more importantly cause ripples in the wider culture beyond their field.
My first is Alan Moore.
If you don't know who Alan Moore is I'd recommend you go look him up on wikipedia.
He is an inspiration to me because his work is always the highest quality. His work is important beyond the realm of comics where he is one of the legendary creators. He continues to work pushing the boundaries of comics as well and shunning the commercial side of his work in favour of trying something new. He recalls the comics from his childhood but he brought something more. He wasn't content to re-create what he loved, he pushed it further had the vision to see there was more to comics refused to believe that comics had stopped evolving. His work is powerful, it has integrity and it is still popular with a wide audience. This is a rare and incredible thing and I feel lucky to be around at the same time as Mr Moore, seeing what he will create next, as, it, happens.
My second is the Beatles.
Possibly the most successful band of all time. Obviously their music captured the hearts and minds of several generations. But that success could be a lucky break, or a set a of freak conditions that may never happen again. What makes the Beatles special for me is that they made brilliant records all through their career. What they didn't do was stand still. they didn't make the same records over and over again, they revelled in a huge variety of musical styles and they were given space to experiment and develop. They kept bringing new sounds to the public and the public went on a whirlwind ride of waves of new music for 9 years. It's something that wouldn't be allowed these days. Such a big commercial concern is controlled by the people who fund the business. they don't want risks they want to invest and guarantee a return (even in human entertainment, which is as unpredictable and fickle as a feather in a hurricane). The Beatles has touched western culture and has survived the test of time. their songs are as powerful a symbol of human endeavor as the Great Pyramids.
Went a long way from games there but I think my point is:
If we believe that all that games have to offer already exists then we may as well finish now and find something else to keep us amused. If however we are at the beginning of games as culture then lets find our Alan Moores and Beatles and give them what they need to create something significant and enduring.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Size is important.

I am old enough to remember the first telephone being installed at my home. There was a day when the first colour TV arrived, the Christmas when a shiny new VCR arrived. We had piles of books, piles of VHSs tapes and piles of records. I owned piles of tapes; some with music, lots with games. I collect comic books and have a whole shed dedicated to their storage.
Stories and music and games and movies are valuable to me.
Digital media has happened. My tapes changed into CD's, my CD's became mp3's. My stereo shrunk to an i-pod on a dock. The VHS tapes have become recordings on a hard drive running under my TV. All those VHS movies changed into DVD's, some have morphed into Blu-rays. I'm pretty sure that soon they will vanish and the hard-drive will contain all the things I'll ever want to watch. Last birthday the Kindle appeared at our house and now I can foresee the bookshelves gradually emptying.
I've had games on casette tapes, games on discs, games on CD's, games on DVD's, games on Blu-Ray, games I've downloaded. You'll notice that the media for games has changed more than it has for other media. The games industry thrives on technology, it's hungry for the next thing to play with. Just like a spoilt child with a pile of chocolate it'll gobble down the latest tech and be ready for more.
Given that all my music is on one portable device, all my movies can be on the same device, all my books can be on my kindle I'm guessing that people want convenience and power. they want devices that fit into their lives, not that they have to build their lives around. Games ride the front of the technology wave but no-one in games can see that what we want is the same for our games?
Imagine one device that fits in your pocket, holds all the games you've ever bought. Can be hooked up to the TV for the big-screen experience. Imagine being able to buy a game once and being able to play it on any device that you own that can run it. Would be great huh? No more physical media just a hard drive full of all your games and their saves and you can play with anyone in the world at any time where-ever you are.
The big boys are all talking about cloud service and suddenly some of this could be just around the corner.
The thing is I have seen something even better. A way to make your handheld device a social experience. The equivalent of plopping the ipod ina dock and having all your friends dance to the music. Watch the clip.
Imagine being able to project your game onto a wall and you and friends play together in the open air. I know it's a way off but I think this is the future of consoles. Devices you can take and play anywhere. When I watched that clip the first time it was like a mini-revelation. When there is no barrier to when and where we play games, they will become an even more important part of our lives.