Choosing an imperfect world over the perfections of a virtual Sandbox

I was reading an article on Videogamer.com this morning, where former Criterion technology director Paul Ross discussed his upcoming game, Dangerous Golf, and outlined his views on the changing video game landscape.

Ross, like many in the industry, as well as consumers who’ve purchased and devoted countless hours in front of a screen wonder what is next for the future of video games.

Nintendo has already teased their next console, the NX, which is said to be another handheld/home console hybrid that will compete graphically with the likes of Sony’s Playstation 4.

I’ve thrown this question out to some industry professionals in the past; more specifically in a feature piece I wrote during my time at Humber College on video games in conjunction with films entitled “Run, Jump, Fight or Pause” back in 2012.

Rob Robson, the game programming programmer at Humber College (not sure if he’s still working there or not), had predicted a shift in the way we play videogames. He suggested movies will continue to remain passive entertainment, while video games will continue to become more divergent.

Likewise, I also interviewed Raju Mudhar, entertainment reporter at the Toronto Star, who predicted more cross-overs between the two mediums, which is something we have seen sprouting out of the woodwork.

The best example I’ve seen in the past couple of years is the videogame Defiance, and the television show that followed alongside the game.

Defiance-tv-game
Defiance had both a video game and a story that followed closely to each other. 

But what does this mean for video game developers and the platforms they continue to build on?

Ross predicts the next wave of PlayStation consoles will allow developers to create “far more dynamic”, “interactive” and “believable” worlds.

Ross’ Dangerous Golf game is a physics-based golf game with various destructible environments. The studio behind the game, Three Fields Entertainment, is hoping to push the boundaries of the traditional ‘physics-based’ game. This point is driven home further by the company’s co-founder Alex Ward.

“We set out to push the boundaries of a physics-based game and just start to prepare for the next generation of machines whenever they come to try and be a small developer but be on the cutting edge of tools and technology,” co-founder Alex Ward told VideoGamer.com. “To dream big and try and push the boundaries.”

The prospect of a more interactive experience sounds exciting, and only further cements the idea that in 5 or 10 years time, we will have full control over games, and controllers will be another dust-collecting trinket of the past.

At the same time, my excitement surrounding video games has diminished gradually. This could be due in part to my busy work schedule and not having enough time in a day to sit down for an hour and play a game, or the fact that prices continue to rise, or perhaps the exhausting cycle of chasing new and highly anticipated titles on a weekly, or some cases monthly basis.

Journey.Game_.full_.1293648
A screenshot from the PlayStation indie game, Journey.

It’s become incredibly challenging to keep up with the industry. Hell, I’m still waiting to play Batman Arkham Knight and Witcher 3, and it’s been almost a year.

Something really perturbs me about the language used by Paul Ross on the subject of the yet-to-be-announced PlayStation 5 (though it’s bound to happen eventually). He uses words like, “dynamic”, “interactive”, “believable”, and “pushing the boundaries”, words and phrases I’ve seen echoed umpteen times by industry leaders.

These game developers are striving for the unattainable, though it’s important to note these developers are aware of the boundaries in their work.

They see hurdles and impasses, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm and dedication to pushing out the best possible game.

Despite this, the direction video games seem to be taking does not pique my interest as much as it did in the past.

480xNx375121.jpg.pagespeed.ic.0ppofT3rEd
A player wearing the Oculus Rift VR headset, while a screen projects what he is assumed to be seeing in his headset.

I don’t really need to immerse myself in a virtual reality game that appears realistic because I could just as easily go outside for a surely ‘real’ interaction.

I think it’s really cool to see developers whom are finally able to create these expansive virtual worlds that truly look and feel real to the consumer, but I’m perfectly happy with the imperfect world I’m living on right now.

I’m not at all discrediting or putting down developers’ work because I really do admire the beauty and the hard work that’s come from independent and even Triple-A studios today.

To them I I say, keep going.

Keep pushing the boundaries, keep venturing along the path less travelled, and when you feel you’ve reached your goal, set a course for a much hardier destination.

Isn’t that just part of living?

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