We gamers are evolving rapidly. The change from a social stigma at the dawn of gaming to the common acceptance brought about by the onset of mobile gaming had also changed the gamer stereotype. In this time and day, male or female, bespectacled or not, just about anyone on the street can be a gamer.
This is an exciting time really, because I see another paradigm shift coming. In the light of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, the next generation of gamers will be an interesting breed indeed.
Why do I say that?
If you have no inkling why, look at these new incoming gadgets.
Be it concept, prototype or in production, when combined with the V.R. headsets, they all point towards one key change. The next generation of gamers will be working out…a lot.
Consider someone spending 20-30 hours a week on games, we are now looking at an average of say 10 hours of full body workout a week. Hardcore gamers? Try a 1-1 conversion into workout time. It doesn’t take much to imagine the result. 10000 hour rule? We’ll be going over that easily.
Yes, I’ll be optimistic and predict the next generation of gamers will end up being among the fittest people on the planet.
We’ll also likely to be the ones with the best sight and hearing abilities, complemented with the best reflexes. And we’ll get all this for free while gaming.
The next era of game design
Of course, how it will ultimately turn out will depend on how the games are going to be designed. I imagine that the games of the full body V.R. age will need to consider the following:
- Balanced work load on the body – Make a person swing a 1000x with one arm while neglecting the other will cause lopsided development for example.
- Scale-able work load – The ability to do more for less, which can be scaled according to the individual. The explore-able area in “Witcher 3” was already 132 sq km. Imagine being made to explore such a world in a 1-1 real life to V.R. metric conversion…
- Psychological Impact – War and horror games might become too real for some and cause PTSD. “Dead Space” is scary enough in a 2D monitor. I can’t imagine playing that in full immersion…
- Encounter work loads – Mob and boss encounters will now need to take into account how much physical stress it can put on the gamer. Chain multiple high stress encounters in quick succession and your gamer will be headed to the hospital in a stretcher.
- Realism – This takes on a new dimension as what players learn in game can now almost directly transfer to real life. Expert swordsman in a game? The gamer might as well be an expert in real life as well if #1 and #2 are carefully tuned. As such, what skills should be taught through the game?
In the early years of this new age, I can just imagine the news headlines being filled with gaming-related injuries…(hah).
On a more solemn note, as the boundary between the real world and V.R. blurs, gaming companies will then take on a role that is beyond that of entertainment. It will be educating and training the masses, intentionally or not. The “what is being taught” will be even more important. It can be a double-edged sword in this respect.
That said, bring on the advances.
I am ready. Are you?
A little side note…
“Sword Art Online” is the poster child for V.R. technology with even IBM capitalizing on the fact.
The “Full-Dive” concept as delivered by the anime “Sword Art Online”, if it ever comes to fruition will be a detriment, not a boon. In the anime, brain signals to the body and limbs are cut off at the neck, so the user log into games in a semi-comatose state.
Users will likely suffer muscle atrophy due to extended use. Risky.
I still love the series though. It is awesome…