Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Wave of the future

So this will be my (hopefully) final instalment of gaming history, this time we’re not just looking at the past, but at the future of gaming, and its implications. Towards the end of the Nineties, the first 6th Generation console, the Dreamcast was released. After the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001, Sega announced they would stop producing video game consoles after their last two had been commercial failures, and went into game development instead. In 2000, the Playstation 2 was released, which sold incredibly well. In the same year, Microsoft released their own console- The Xbox, which although was expected to struggle, did incredibly well, which is mainly attributed to its launch title, Halo. A year after this, Nintendo released their 6th gen console, the Gamecube, which didn’t sell as well as the range of games for it were incredibly limited and it got labelled as a “kids” console, falling into 3rd place behind the PS2 and Xbox. Along with the home consoles released, Nintendo launched the Game Boy Advance, as a replacement for the Game Boy Colour.

As well as improving on the 3D graphics of 5th Gen Consoles, many 6th Gen consoles included built in features like DVD players and hard drives, a jump from the memory cards required for older consoles. The Xbox made use of intent play, which was first used by the Dreamcast, creating the Xbox Live system, which was launched in 2002 a year after the release of the console. Xbox Live was a massive success as it allowed gamers to connect with each other and download game content. Up until 2005, Nintendo dominated the handheld market, and released the dual screened Nintendo DS, which also featured a touchscreen. A year later, Sony released the Playstation Portable, the first real contender to Nintendo.

So some games were released, and they were lovely, BUT THEN the next generation of consoles came along! In 2005, Microsoft started off the 7th generation of consoles with the Xbox 360, which was followed quickly by the Wii and Playstation 3 a year later. This time, the platforms featured wireless controllers, HD ready graphics, and media centres, along with online services. The Wii used an innovative controller which implemented motion sensitivity, and the PS3 created tilt-sensitive controllers (though I’m not actually sure how these improved the gaming experience in any way, shape or form to be honest). Of each console in the 7th generation, the Wii outsold the Xbox 360 and expensively priced PS3, despite the focus on family friendly and casual games causing “hardcore” games to reject it.

Along with many, many console, this decade has brought many new things to gaming. The popularity of MMORPGs, which first began in the 90s, has exploded, and the genre of rhythm games has become incredibly popular thanks to games like Guitar Hero and Rockband. Although the number of “mature” games has risen considerably, so have the amount of “casual” games, so much so that the average gamer is more likely to be a 34 year old woman, rather than commonly assumed teenage boy, holed up in a dark room fraggin n00bz on Halo.

Currently the future of games seems to be focused on motion based play in games, with the release of the Kinect and Playstation Move. The Kinect, which has recently been released, and has been heralded as the “next step in the gaming experience”. So, will it live up to the hype? It’s difficult to tell what the outcome of the Kinect will be, it may actually be the next step, revolutionising games everywhere, but more likely it will be revealed as a fad, and will fade into video game obscurity forever. For now, I think I’ll stick to regular controller games, after all, how exactly are you meant to play games in your living room where you do a LOT of running?

I’m playing Fallout!

Another Big Idea for games is the use of 3D which is being applied to Nintendo’s newest handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS, which is due to be released around March 2011, and will use 3D graphics without the need for 3D glasses. Sony is also developing 3D technology to be used in alongside Sony’s 3D TV with 3D glasses.

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