3D film is by no means a new attribute to the movie industry. Hell, it’s been around for decades, and with the aid of computer-generated imagery, it’s becoming more and more prevalent. Movies like James Cameron’s Avatar quickly come to mind. Following closely in suit, unsurprisingly, is the video game industry, which has reached a turning point. While game developers continue to push the envelope, it’s the advancements in technology that shape the industry into what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.
Yesterday marked both Sony and Microsoft’s CES keynote addresses. Yesterday also gave way to a realization: the industry – for better or worse – is changing. Change is inevitable; technology becomes outdated, trends fade in and out, and the only way to satisfy these changes, is change itself. How does this apply to the video game industry? Simple. Gamers are looking for fresh, immersive experiences.
Wednesday’s keynotes, in regards to gaming, were about just that, new ways to captivate gamers by offering unprecedented experiences. I’m referring to, of course, Microsoft’s Project Natal and Sony’s newfound interest in 3D gaming. These new technologies pave way for the future of video games in a fashion similar to how 3D animation paved way for today’s video games. This time, however, it’s a bit different, at least in one respect.
Catalyzed by Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft and Sony are each developing their own motion-control interfaces. Unlike the revolution the industry underwent when 3D modeling and animation were developed, this is a revolution of a different sort. Instead of changing the way we see games, this new technology is changing the way we interact with them. No longer are we confined to the graces of a joystick.
Motion-sensing isn’t the only change coming to the industry though. As I mentioned before, 3D gaming is supposedly the “next big thing.” Sony is pushing, and pushing hard (as was apparent in their press conference), for both 3D games and movies. In fact, the company expects to see 3D televisions as early as 2012, but Sony’s not the only one predicting 3D gaming to be the way of the future. Unicomm, a tradeshow-management organization, recently announced its plans to start a 3D-gaming summit.
“Interactive entertainment is both more challenging and more satisfying,” said Conference Chair Bob Dowling. “The advent of stereoscopic 3D only amplifies the intensity and immersion in the actual experience. When stereoscopic 3D is in the consumer’s home through 3D-enabled television, the game industry will again take a significant leap forward.”
While some movies are already taking advantage of 3D, many believe that it’s video games who will be bringing the technology into living rooms.
“[With] the deluge of 3D product announcements at the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show, it’s clear that 3D is accelerating its march into the home,” commented John Golicz, CEO of Unicomm. “Video games will lead the way.”
It’s apparent, then, the significance of these new technologies – both motion-control and 3D – but will it be realized this generation with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Undoubtedly no. As I stated earlier, the industry is at a turning point. It’s mid-stride, still in the process of developing these innovations. So if it’s not ready to be fully appreciated, then what purpose does Natal and these other cutting-edge technologies serve? The answer may sound cliché, but it’s the truth: you have to learn to walk before you can learn to run. We won’t know for sure until Natal and Sony’s endeavors are released to the public, but with that said, the future of gaming is not as far off as you might think.