Videogame Designers Envision The Future of Fun

Predictions, opinions, and hopes from the creators of Gears of War, Mass Effect 3, Halo 4, and more

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This month, Popular Science explores the future of fun. Here on PopSci.com, we’ve teamed up with the game experts at Kill Screen. We speak to top video game designers about their visions of the future of fun; take a look at the resurgence in making your own fun, and bring you a playable online arcade.

In 1907, Hungarian explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein discovered the Diamond Sutra in north-west China, a Buddhist holy text believed to be the oldest printed book. Dated 868 A.D., the faded paper, wrapped around a wooden pole, looks nothing like our published texts. But at a foundational level, the scholar 1200 years ago would still absorb its material the same way we do today: by reading words from a page.

Music and film, too, have advanced with technology but remain fundamentally the same as their precursors. Videogames, however, evolve on a separate plane. Even the simplest element of digital play, the interactive gesture, has changed dramatically in games’ short history. Tapping commands on a keyboard has given way to full-body immersion, with new interfaces every year.

The sheer number of users continues to explode. In a few decades, videogames have grown from the simple geometry of Spacewars!, experienced by a rare few in computer labs, to the near-photorealism of Call of Duty, a controllable blast of napalm in the hands of millions. In a hundred years of film, the distance between DeMille’s Birth of a Nation and Cameron’s Avatar is great; but compared to the gap separating Space Invaders and Mass Effect, the entirety of film’s progress resembles a baby’s first step.

So where will we go from here? Kill Screen asked a wide range of developers, from those building the next great AAA blockbuster to the individual crafting tiny gems from their desk chair. Read on, and discover their hopes, fears, and predictions for the future.