Your Gaming Future, Gaming Past

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In my upcoming Matt Chat with Scratches designer Agustín Cordes, we talk a lot about our perspectives on classic games such as Myst and King's Quest, and how those have changed over time. Agustín says that he doesn't consider Myst (1993) to be a vintage game, simply because it feels too modern to him compared to the earlier King's Quest (1984). It made me start thinking about how we perceive time when talking about individual games. There is 9 years difference between Myst and King's Quest, but 18 years have passed since Myst first graced the Mac (16 for PC). It seems to me that each year that goes by seems to compress that 9 year gap to make it seem shorter, so that it seems like Myst followed very closely on the heels of King's Quest (and thus I feel comfortable grouping both under the category "classic"). For Agustín, on the other hand, that gap seems much wider, perhaps because the Myst-style is still "modern" in the sense that most adventure games still follow its model.

These observations have me thinking about the future and how these various "game ages" we talk about now will seem then. Dan Carlin (of Hardcore History and Common Sense podcasts) like to say that in the future, the history books will combine the two world wars and ignore the gap in between, which will seem more like a temporary ceasefire than an actual break between wars. I wonder what will happen to games. Will we even perceive a major break between the disk and CD-ROM eras, for instance? Or will it seem like a very minor development barely worth a footnote?

I'm also trying to think on a grand scale about what achievements and breakthroughs in the gaming and computer industry will still hold fifty years from now, and which ones--that seem critical now, mind you--will be delegated to the footnotes. Will there be talk of a "videogame crash" of 83/84, or will it seem that the NES just picked up immediately where the American consoles left off? It seems like a big gap for most of us, but I can imagine why a future historian might consider that period too brief to warrant such a grand description.

I even wonder if fifty years from now historians will even bother to separate console from computer gaming, since that division will probably make little sense (at least if current trends towards virtual machines and cloud computing continue). My prediction is that they will be much less concerned with devices and platforms and more focused on the important games.

On a final note, I'm wondering what the various "Top" lists will look like fifty years from now. Will any games from the 80s, 90s, or even 00s be on it? I suppose classics like PONG might remain simply because of their importance in establishing the industry, but will games like King's Quest or Myst be worth mentioning? I suppose the big question is whether those genres will have continued in some form.

How do you feel about time and history when it comes to games? Looking back over the history of gaming, and peering forward to its future, do you see clear shifts (or punctuations) that will become even more distinctive and definitive, or more of a gradually flattening curve? 50 years from now, will anyone still care about the move to CD-ROM or the early arcade-obsessed console industry? How many of the games currently considered "classic" and historically important will just be forgotten, replaced by later games that will seem so much more sophisticated and innovative?

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gilgamesh (not verified)
Ah, nice. I didn't know that.

Ah, nice. I didn't know that. Btw I know Trip to the Moon from a Queen video and I found this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_science_fiction_films:_Pre_1920
Who said people don't care about firsts? ;-)

If the analogy between movies and games holds, then we don't have to worry about the classics. Just compare Nosferatu to Twilight.

clok1966
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true
gilgamesh wrote:

Ah, nice. I didn't know that. Btw I know Trip to the Moon from a Queen video and I found this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_science_fiction_films:_Pre_1920
Who said people don't care about firsts? ;-)

If the analogy between movies and games holds, then we don't have to worry about the classics. Just compare Nosferatu to Twilight.

that is cool, I never knew 20,000 leagues under the sea was orignaly made in 1906 (err I know it was book before that) Looks like a few more came before Trip to the Moon too...

And I agree with you on Nosferatu, but I bet a few million young girls wouldnt agree.. where in lies the problem i think.. I have no desire to own a model T car (and Im a car nut) but I know a few older guys who would love one.. how we perceive things is directly related to when we grew up, what we used in those years etc.. which is why Kings Quest will never be on a "list" a 20 year old would make.. IMHO that game will never stand up to a new one in thier eyes.

Matt Barton
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I have a funny story about

I have a funny story about Futureworld. Many years ago I was in the habit of showing films to classes and then having them write a paper on it. Well, I went to the library looking for Westworld and, total brain fart, got Futureworld by mistake. By the time I figured out my mistake, it was too late--the whole class had to watch and write a paper on a laughably bad movie.

I tried to pass it off as though I intended Futureworld all along, and even mentioned that it was the first with CGI, etc. But it was hard controlling my laughter during the viewings.

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Bill Loguidice
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Here's a pretty good overview

Here's a pretty good overview of computer animation and CGI in early film (looked it up because I wanted to see what the computer-generated bit in Futureworld was): http://www.your3dsource.com/earliest-computer-animation.html

And check this link from the article to see the first computer animated film (a short): http://www.nfb.ca/film/Hunger/ . Impressive stuff! Probably one of the earliest uses of morphing too...

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clok1966
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When i relaly think about it

When i relaly think about it Star Wars probebly should be used as the first as it was not ment ot be CGI ... Futureworlds stuff was suposed to be just what it is a somputer generated face, it wasnt really anything but graphics on a monitor. The bit about Andromidia Strain was pretty interesting, just think how many films have done that.. Wirefram of a building.. and that was the first. Awsome movie too... shows how great a movie can be with good writing about a "real" subject that could actually happen. Wierd little fact.. they actually sucked the air out of the cages to make the animals pass out to make it look like they where dying (my guess is a few did)... The 3 part remake was good, but it sure didnt add anything to the story IMHO.. fun to watch an update but I prefer the original, no pretty boy characters (though the Nurse was kinda hot).

Matt yes Future world is very bad. Westworld was such an awsome movie, Im starting to understand the hate for some movie sequals.. when you just enjoy a movie a bad second part doesnt bother you, but when its somthing that impressed you, when they churn a turd out it does just annoy the crap out of you. AND i have made that same mistake.. I had Future World in my netflix q.. had some freinds who had never seen Westworld and was hyping it all up.. and.. ya... was an ugly night.

Hunger was incredible... Talent in that guy, looks like that was one of his last works.. to bad I would like to see more of his stuff.. "a short Vison" (youtube) is pretty incredible too... Im am in awe right now.. so much stuff to see, so much I never will..

Rob Daviau
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interesting.
Bill Loguidice wrote:

And check this link from the article to see the first computer animated film (a short): http://www.nfb.ca/film/Hunger/ . Impressive stuff! Probably one of the earliest uses of morphing too...

Interesting. I remember that film, it kind of creeped me out. Apparently they are remaking Westworld (I know BIG surprise) I cannot imagine it without Yul Brenner, I am torn, I mean like most people I sooo sick of remakes or "re-imaginings" but I am at the point where I think well, if your going to do remakes anyway it might be interesting to see where this goes...........

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Matt Barton
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Ugh
Rob Daviau wrote:
Bill Loguidice wrote:

And check this link from the article to see the first computer animated film (a short): http://www.nfb.ca/film/Hunger/ . Impressive stuff! Probably one of the earliest uses of morphing too...

Interesting. I remember that film, it kind of creeped me out. Apparently they are remaking Westworld (I know BIG surprise) I cannot imagine it without Yul Brenner, I am torn, I mean like most people I sooo sick of remakes or "re-imaginings" but I am at the point where I think well, if your going to do remakes anyway it might be interesting to see where this goes...........

I know what you mean. It was such a cool old movie, a real classic.

I suppose it is the sort of film that could benefit from the special effects of today, but only if they follow up with great acting and don't ruin the script. Hehe, imagine if they brought Yul back as one of the androids (similar to what they did with the recent Tron).

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Rob Daviau
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It's a love hate thing
Matt Barton wrote:

I know what you mean. It was such a cool old movie, a real classic.

I suppose it is the sort of film that could benefit from the special effects of today, but only if they follow up with great acting and don't ruin the script. Hehe, imagine if they brought Yul back as one of the androids (similar to what they did with the recent Tron).

That is just what I was thinking, I mean, Yul's character in the fist movie was the strong silent type to say the least, they really could pull a TRON and bring him back, THAT would kick ass for sure! I prefer not seeing straight remakes, maybe something like a new company opening the fantasy theme park, set years later they now think "We have learned from our mistakes and technology and AI has been perfected our new safety measures will guarantee nothing can go wrong!" and maybe the YUL android can be incorporated as the new improved model that ends up saving the day just when you think all is lost! OK I guess that is corny but something that keeps me guessing instead of a remake would be more interesting I think? Also, damn I cannot remember of the life of me what it was I heard they were making a remake of but I do remember thinking how I would like to actually see an updated version with today's effects. I do think that certain movies especially in the SciFi catagory could potentially be amazing today. As I said I am torn on one side thinking "Damn you don't touch the classics!" but on the other hand the possibilities are intriguing. Also I hear they are "rebooting" Spider man and Superman AGAIN, I don't see the point. I mean Superman again really? Oh and I suppose the villain will be LEX LUTHOR again? Enough already. See, I would NOT want to see a remake or re-imagining of say THE CROW or John carpenter's the THING but I heard at one point at least a prequel to the thing was being considered where we see how the first alien was discovered and infected the first camp. I am a big Carpenter fan and no movie in my opinon has ever given me that same sense of dread, isolation etc, and if they did not employ those things in the prequel I am not sure they should bother. Would I see it? Of course but I cannot guess how much I would like it. Anyway, sorry for going off so far off topic in this post but prior to gaming and computing movies is probably my next biggest pastime.

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Rob Daviau
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Kinda back on topic.

I think far far into the future, sadly long after I am gone, all the people playing on their personal "Holodecks" will look back at gaming of today and earlier as being very "quaint" and perhaps consider it as primitive as we might consider Pong or Space Wars today. Maybe though there will still be people into those antiquated classics as we are today, you know, they will be on the Holodeck, running a program that recreates a typical Desktop of today, and maybe this virtual Holodeck PC will run an emulator for Sega Genesis lol! Imagine, an Holodeck recreated computer running an emulator of an old console! WINNING!

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clok1966
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Rob: WOW so many cool

Rob: WOW so many cool movies. The Thing, that one is a go, they are currently shooting as far as I last heard, it is the other camp and what happened.. Going ot be a bit sad to have all these english speaking people doing it.. Das Boot in german and subtitles is better then the dubbed version to me. Your Westworld idea sound s bit terminator 2 to me :) I always said the first terminator movie was a "rip off" of Westworld (not in the strict sence, but I bet Westworld inspired it in some small way). I agree.. The Yul character was the single part of that film that made it great, when you watch it you sorta get a "made for TV" vibe but Yul takes it to greatness (IMHO) and a remake is really going to have find a way to make that part special for it to work. making it a copy of him wont work I dont think, they are going to have to figure something out, what, im not sure.
CROW- probebly my favorite comic of all time (along with Watchmen, which is a MOVIE i thought rocked, evne the changed ending workd for me)- But I could see a "good" remake that followed the original story (not the crappy comics that came later). Personaly I liked both of the first 2 crow movies (i know nobody seems to like the 2nd, but I think the "feeling" of the film fits the comic better than the first. The first movie stuck to the Comic well, but it was just a standard gritty revenge flick (set and character wise) but was elevated with dialog and Brandon was good, no doubt about it. I would have loved to see the story form the first with the "look/feel" of the second.. perfect movie.. the second just had the dream like look, that you had to wake up by the end (and the revenge person has to die and go after revenge is taken). The first one was great, no doubt about it but I didnt like the "new" ending with the girl the cop and so on at the church... I WONT even discuss the other travisties that bear its name after those.

Superman- eh... why not? Im not in the camp that the Reid movies where that good, fun YES! but good superman movies? eh.. not to sure. The last one.. Spacey stole the show for a bit, but even that wore thin. They can make a movie like 2012 with non stop CGI distruction and teh BEST they can do in a SUperman movie si a grainy TV showing him for 1 minute and a few big CGI shots? Superman is.. SUPER!! he needs to do big over the top stuff, not that the whole "land mass" thing wasnt over the top.. but leading up to it was just boring really. And the Reboot of Superman is 'suposedly" going to have Doomsday which to me is silly as we all know how that story ends..

remakes are the easy way out now, built in audiance and if done well, they seem to do well at box office. I am dang happy comic book movies are doing well, but I think we are going to see a glut soon. THOR? not to sure this is box office gold, a good story can solve most problems, but THOR is just not a major player. I do have high hopes. thre are so many good INDIE comics.. PRIEST is comming (awsome but very twisted), Walking dead (already on TV), Y the last man (if they can follow the comic even a little bit this should rock). So much excellent matarial for Hollywood to screw up :(

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