Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Video Games Will Replace Film

   I woke up this morning with only one thing on my mind: "it's time to make a crazy-ass prediction". Mind you, I don't mean a crazy-ass prediction that is crazy for the sake of crazy, or an implausible prediction that you'd expect to see emblazoned next to a headline in Weekly World News.

 Satan has been known to throw up the metal horns whenever threatened

No, this prediction is not only plausible, I can guarantee it will happen one way or another -- maybe even before 2032. My prediction is that, within the next twenty years, video games will replace film entirely. That's not to say that we're going to stop wanting to watch entertainment; it means that the way we interact with and observe entertainment will merge into one form. Stop and think about that for a second.

We're already beginning to see this trend emerge organically, though admittedly, it is primitive. Interaction and immersion into games has never been so deep and nuanced as it is today. If you have the right setup, some games can completely suck you in. I've even had moments where I've been "jarred" back to reality by someone knocking on my door or a sudden loud noise while playing a game that I was completely enraptured by.

I've learned that fire alarms can be pretty damned obnoxious

As our technology becomes more powerful, our entertainment will become far more immersive as well; this sort of stuff is obvious even to someone who doesn't pay much thought to the entertainment industry. What isn't so obvious is the main symptom of all of these different forms of entertainment making leaps in what they can do technically. As, say, video games become more and more powerful in what they can do, a funny thing happens: they start to compete with film. This is already happening.

The next step in the advancement of the video game medium isn't immediately intuitive but, nonetheless, it is real. One day soon the technology will make it possible to not only play out a full cinematic experience with all the bells and whistles -- including actors, some of whom will be real "players" and some which will be simulated, and full stories that will be directed by an adaptive system that changes the experience based on your actions -- think Holodeck or Quantum Leap-style.

Unfortunately, the future still cannot make you as "sexy" as Scott Bakula

Once this level of immersion becomes technologically possible, video games will evolve into their new form: "interactive entertainment". When this paradigm shift occurs, the film industry will not so much be destroyed, but more likely absorbed. You see, this new form of entertainment will create a dynamic system where, even if you don't want to interact with the action, you could just sit back and watch someone else live out the experience in front of you. Acting skills won't be necessary because the experience won't make you pretend. It will seem absolutely real to you.

This new chimaera of entertainment will open up brand new possibilities. Want to laugh at your best friend as he tries to fend off a T-Rex with a lightsaber? Maybe you would just prefer to watch some "intellectually-handicapable" celebrity attempt to solve a murder mystery. Do you somehow have a thing for Christian Bale? Why not, then, have a simulated version of Christian Bale play every role in what would probably be the most ridiculous version of The Lord of The Rings to date.
 -The Dark Lord Sauron right after he has slain Isildur's father

To quote an overused phrase, "the sky's the limit" when it comes to the new medium. The mechanics of the devices that will have the ability to create this kind of visual and physical involvement are harder to predict, but it'd be a safe bet that by 2030 they will exist in some form. The only uncertainty, I think, is whether we'll have the right creative minds that will be necessary to truly create the sort of content that would be needed to truly bring this kind of stuff to life.

What do you think? Will my prediction come true, and if it does, what would you like to do with it?

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