Old predictions of the future of gaming

From 1950 to the noughties, we look back at the history of gaming's future


Here's a real blast from the past. A book called Usborne Guide to Computer and Videogames (which wasn't to do with our mates over at CVG, sadly) was published in 1982 andcovered all aspects of this emerging industry.

It was aimed at kids and obviously attempted to fire their imaginations by suggesting some wildly ambitious directions the medium could move in over the next 20 years or so. But they were incredibly close. Look:


"TV games will have a very large memory... and the players will be able to control far more of the details in the picture than they can today."


Even the illustration looks just like a modern strategy game. Just look at the particle effects and deformable scenery. But of course this is all too much to keep track of on a single screen, so...


"Powerful computers will be able to create adventure games infinitely more complex than those you can play on a micro today. To help the human player there will probably be a board and counters to plan and keep track of their moves."

That's the problem with logic when you're applying it to subjective experience. It was just too advanced to comprehend a menu screen called up witha single button, or even being able to hold a 3D map up in front of your virtual eyes, updating it in real-time as you spot enemy unitslike in Far Cry 2.


Above: See the 'counters' on the map? Could have used a board instead


This is the 1982 gamer's expectation for a massively multiplayer space game.


Eleven players, each with a joystick that is presumably moved at full arm's length.It would have to be at arm's lenth - can you imagine 11 people huddled around this?And it's bolted to the floor! We know there have been 8-player link-up cabs in arcades, but seriously, this was way off the mark. Unlike the next one...



Does that say 'Sega' on the advertising hoardings? This is like a screenshot of Virtua Striker 2 from 2000, just as predicted, complete with behind-the-ball free kick cam, rendered spectators and real-time shadows. Amazing.

The book states: "In TV sports games you will probably be able to control each of your team members individually. These games will also have electronically synthesized voices and the referee will tell you when you are offside or given a free kick."



Hand-held gameswith LCD screens? Check. Full colour? Check. As detailed and realistic as the pictures of a TV programme? Well, as near as dammit, check.

Interesting to see that they expected the console itself to be so thin. In fact, with those dial controls, that's almost an iPod Video right there. But why wasn't this handheld combined with the next bit of tech?



Above: Play your wireless chess and enjoy it. I SAID ENJOY IT!

Gamers in the year 2000 apparently wouldn't use their fancy TV-like handheld motorbike gamesonline. They'd all use that technology to play boring old chess instead. Obviously chess was the only game anyone imagined could be played online for two decades.

But enough beating about the bush.What is the logical conclusion to all this technology according to 1982?


Come on, that's just Star Wars, isn't it? The best anyone could think of would be to step into the shoes of Luke Skywalker and give the Empire a damn good spanking. Still, the surround sound is about right (though now surpassed with Dolby 5.1) and we do have 3D effects. And, to be fair, we do fancy a go on that game.

We're not done with the 80s yet, though. There's a little invention that could possibly, just maybe, chance the face of gaming forever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The longest-serving GR+ staffer, I was here when all this was just fields. I'm currently Reviews Editor but still find time to speedrun Sonic levels and make daft Photoshop articles.
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