The near future of gaming

Some rough issue about the near future of gaming, prepared for a workshop for a client: With regards to the notion of gaming, the video game market/industry is COMPLICATED - Because the notion of “games” is expanding from game console/computer games/portable games to serious gaming (e.g. simulation, training applications), web-based games, mobile gaming (e.g. electronic sudoku, mogi mogi), electronic toys and robots (e.g. Nabaztag, Leapfrog products), social platforms (e.g. Second Life, Habbo Hotel) or alternate reality gaming. We now think in terms of “Digital entertainment”. - Because it is composed of different industries, which have different business models, constraints, rules, target groups and timescale/work practices. - Innovation in the field tend to be sustained by outsiders (for instance Habbo Hotel designed by Finnish company Sulake Games, that already has 50 millions users),

In the short term, the picture is actually slightly simpler: - Even though the news are quite wii-centered lately, do not forget that other big guys (Microsoft and Sony) still matter. The tech-driven aspects of the game industry are still important and we still don’t know how users will react to the new game controller. - Sequels (e.g. Pro Evolution Soccer 5) and blockbusters (e.g. Zelda, Super Mario) continue to be important because players still acknowledge their value based on the history. - However, pay attention to game breakthroughs (Elektroplankton, Spore) with disruptive gameplay, which are trying to set new trends of original game design. - Look at the evolution of MMORPG and how the number of player evolves over time; look at how a new job appeared: community manager: a subset of the game designer activity, focused on sustaining and developing MMOG communities. - Try to understand the computer/console game business model (distributors/publishers/design studio) that put an incredible amount of pressure on innovation, leading to neverending sequels. Then think that the most innovative gameplay are designed by new actors (Sulake Games, In-Fusio). - Even though user-generated content is more a matter of videos (You Tube) or pictures (Flickr), the game industry begins to be impacted. And rumors says that Nintendo might provide development facilities on the Wii. - Gaming seems to pervades every moments and places of life (mobile gaming, location-based applications) BUT the home is still the most important location of digital entertainement. Where would be the locus of entertainment in the future? - The Wii re-installed some physicality in gaming, what does that say for other playful environment based on movements/gestures? What are the other scales that matter?

Why do I blog this? these are some raw notes that I used in a workshop about the "near future of entertaining technologies" a while ago, starting point for break-out groups to work on scenarios. Material provided to participants was also: Play Today - an Experientia report on the latest trends in electronic toys and games Alice Taylor's presentation at Aula GAMERS IN THE UK: Digital play, digital lifestyles. (BBC report) It’s only a game by Stephan Somogyi (The Economist, Summer 2006) The Wright Stuff by Will Wright (PopSci) MMOG Chart subscriptions Where Game Meets Web, Raph Koster Speaks Out, an interview of Raph Koster by Bonnie Ruberg (Gamasutra) Participants were also encouraged to read webglogs such as Terra Nova.