Game Boy

Pah! I’ve dipped into attempts to write this entry for several days now. I’d started writing about my general anticipation of future technologies, in particular the true arrival of ‘Virtual Reality’ (As opposed to the premature ejaculation of ‘Virtuality’ in the late 80’s)  However, the more I wrote, the more I realized that I was opening a can of ‘speculative worms’ that was turning into an essay. I do want to cover the subject in my blog but have decided to give a bit more consideration into how to present the information without drifting into a thousand + word ramble.

So, for now I shall draw attention to the above montage. I’ve had it kicking around in my brain for a while now. I wanted to show a kind of chronological evolution of game characters I have known, played and loved  during my lifetime.

At the same time. I wanted to illustrate the increasing complexity and visual fidelity of these ‘avatars’. The image covers roughly a thirty year span. Should the world of humans survive and prosper for another thirty years, what kind of avatars/game characters will we be witnessing and engaging with then? A question that will return in aforementioned ‘Virtual Reality’ ramble.

I’m a gamer, I am not apologetic or ashamed that I spend hours of my life playing console games. I generally moderate my usage responsibly and thoroughly enjoy the whole business of engaging with virtual worlds in the multitude of elaborate scenarios the gaming world has to offer. I’d go as far as saying that I enjoy it more than television. Gaming is an ‘active’ experience that involves problem solving, exploration,social interaction, artistic appreciation, the opportunity to become another character, to be a hero (Or villain) to engage in the battle between light and darkness and experience a sense of achievement whilst doing so. How can TV compete with this ?

I’m not saying that TV doesn’t have its own virtues, but by contrast I find it offers a generally passive experience often interspersed with mind numbing drivel and reminders of all that is wrong with modern society. I could rant…

Or I could invite fellow gamers (Who own PS3’s) to look me up on Playstation Network (PSN). Here are my credentials:

I’m currently playing the crack-cocaine of video gaming, a game called Killzone 2: A first person shooter comprising of a single player campaign/story mode and the jaw-dropping multiplayer mode called ‘Warzone’. Warzone allows up to 32 players to play tournaments consisting of two teams: The ISA (Goodies) & The Helghast (Baddies). These tournaments can last up to 25 minutes of intense battling to achieve certain team objectives (Base capture,assassination,death match etc). When I say ‘intense’ I really mean it, the level of detail in the game is truly stunning. They say ‘A picture can say a thousand words’ here’s a video of a typical Killzone 2 multiplayer tournament:

The tournaments are further enhanced by the fact that you can create or join teams within the battle and communicate with your fellow team mates via bluetooth headsets. This can be superb for building a sense of camaraderie as well as employing strategy.

Killzone 2 gets my accolade for being the first FPS game in around a decade to get me interested in the genre again. It succeeds admirably by being so dense and rich in audio/visual detail. The environments feel solid and oppressive, one can almost smell scorched steel and concrete when in the thick of battle. It is evident that the design team took painstaking measures to focus on the minutiae of creating a living breathing environment.

The immersive nature of the game is further enhanced by the way the environments are affected by whatever is going on in them, bullets leave virtual holes in the virtual walls, they spark when they collide with metal, structures shatter as artillery bombards them . You may find yourself cowering behind a barrier to shelter from a barrage of machine gun fire only to see pieces of the barrier start to break apart until there is no shelter left. This is not some nifty animation technique, Killzone 2 employs an awesome physics engine that has a complete grasp on how gravity,velocity and impact dance with each other and it utilizes these effects with stunning accuracy.

When I was a kid, I dreamt that there would be games of this calibre one day. In the advent of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation of console power, those wished have finally come true. It begs two big questions “What’s next ?” & “How far will it go?”

Neither of which can be accurately answered as the future isn’t here yet. Science fiction tends to indicate that we will become increasingly immersed in our technology and entertainment. It seems to me that the ultimate direction of these complex gaming environs, will be to break free from the frames of the TV screens that house them. How this will occur exactly is the big question, we can only wait and watch to see how the future will take shape. For now I think its fair to accurately predict that 3D TV will be a small revolution in the home and gaming world; we will se this within the next two years.

Above and beyond that ?…


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