Video games: Where next?

Gamers have had a fruitful offering so far this year, and there are still a few unreleased games that will top the year off nicely. Chart-toppers such as Gears of War 2, GTA IV, and Crysis: Warhead are just a few of the many popular titles from this year, with much advancement made in many video game standards. However, when we consider how much the bar has risen in terms of standards, what can we expect to see in the future of gaming?

Assassin's Creed: The game was praised for large, open scenes such that the player could almost completely interact with.

The visual quality of a game is often the most discussed aspect of a game, and if there's one thing we've learnt from the past two years, it's that we can be sure that as long as computing power can increase, so too will the graphical quality of games. You only need to look at Crysis or Assassin's Creed (as shown above) to see how far we've come in that department. With the arrival of DirectX 11 only a version of Windows away, and the new hardware as a result of it, in the next few years, we can expect the quality of graphics to press on upwards, with higher resolution textures, more detail in models, and undoubtedly new, unpredictable technological discoveries.

Some would argue that there's only so far graphics can go, stating that there's a huge gap between video game visual looks, and, for example, a CGI film's visual looks. But while they would argue that to show how little progress has been made, I would use it to argue how much progress has been made. Now, I'm not claiming that pixel pretty games such as Crysis are up to the standards of the CGI film Beowulf, or any other film using CGI for that matter, but looking back, we've come a long way since the days of Doom (shown below).

It's outdated alright, however Doom was a large step forwards for video games.

Virtual reality is likely to play a big part in the future of how games look and feel. Now, while you might be thinking it will be years before we have anything close to true virtual reality, it's easy to forget that we've already seen some steps taken that bring us one step closer to this. Take, for example, the Nintendo Wii. By using a motion sensitive controller as an input, it brought the player a whole lot closer to the game.

We can't raise our hopes unrealistically high, in terms of what we can expect from the next few years, but it will certainly prove interesting to discover what path we'll be taken down in order to get more absorbing, realistic games.

Following along with the current trend, it would also be fair to say that the freedom players can have should also increase. We've already seen Stalker: Clear Sky, Fallout 3, and The Witcher, all of which have many different paths a character can take, all with several endings. Games such as Spore allow the player to start their life as a cell, and steadily move on up, right through to a civilization, and at every stage, the player has options to change and manipulate the game to their liking.

Spore's Creature Creator provides players with almost limitless design choices, when creating a new creature.

The gaming industry is growing at an increasing rate, with research companies predicting that the games industry will overtake the music and film industries combined before the end of this year. So it's interesting to consider where we will be at in only a few years time, with better graphics, as well as more interesting game play. But, despite all previous evidence, all reports and claims, we can only predict the future of gaming, which leads me on to finally ask: where do you think video games will be in two, three, four years time, and what would you like to see in the games of the future?

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