A skimming of the past few day's news has me thinking about tomorrow. I'm not talking about the short term questions, such as Nintendo's DS vs. Sony's PSP
(which no industy professional can predict); I'm thinking a little farther.
As CBC News' Viewpoint: Greg Hughes
observes, the type of videogaming that started with the NES generation has grown up with its audience and these days, "an interesting story and characters means as much as a snazzy graphical interface." How wrong can he be, given that one of the most anticipated games these days is Final Fantasy XII?
Even games aimed at the lowest common denominator are aimed at boys past the age of puberty.
These games already have global appeal. In the Arab world, for example, Video Games Thrill Some, Vex Others
. Teenagers and students use them for social events, and the detractors there raise the same issues (pandering sexism, damage to eyesight, contributing to youth violence) as the games' detractors here in the West. Meanwhile, a special version of Unreal Tournament is being readied
to train US troops in how to use their body language correctly and not get killed in Iraq. The game works because it simulates everything it needs to and responds as the soldier goes through it.
It's obvious that videogames are a valid artform. They transcend attempts to translate them to other media; the Guardian just published a blistering critque
of the gaming press' inadequacy, and Game Brains
' current feature is the crash of the Alone in the Dark movie. Greg Hughes mentions the narrativist model of videogame theory, which posits that they create a cyberdrama in which the player stars. How can any other medium even begin to capture that?
This is where we are. What's next?