Old predictions of the future of gaming

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


Above: Oh. We thought it was for murderousness

To but this article into perspective, in December 1982, this writer was 7 months old. But already the 'fun of personal computing' was promising things we now use every day. Well, we haven't checked the weather in Tanzania for a while... (checks) hmmm, sunny with a few clouds and highs of 90. Huh.


When isometric 3D is the most advanced thing you can imagine, it's hard to comprehend games as we know them today. See the screenshot immediately below? That's what Joystik magazine called 'absolutely phenomenal' and 'spectacular'. Oh, and a 'monumental moment in the genre'.

And in terms of what the future would hold, they could only say: "Who knows. Zaxxon will make an impact." Nice. Though they do recommend we "look for more 3D games in the future". We'll be sure to do that.


The next few predictionscome from a feature in 'Electronic Fun', alsofrom 1982. Remember, in 1982, the year 2001 seemed like 500 years in the future, so predictions were a bit extreme. "Look for arcades to be constructed along the lines of big-budget science-fiction movie sets, with special effects a major attraction of the games. For example, there might be chairs that rock back and forth, swing from side to side, or swivel a full 360 degrees."

Arcades did get that impressive in the mid-nineties and cabinets started 'moving from side to side' with Hang On just a couple of years after this article was written. And G-LOC had a 360 degree rotating cabinet, so that's all very accurate. But the same can't really be said for the next one.


How many times have we been told that media of the future will feature smell? There was even an April Fool's Day joke on BBC TV in 1965 where 'Smell-O-Vision' technology was reportedly being trialled and people rang in to confirm it worked.

But sure enough, Electronic Fun said: "[Arcade games]will draw the player right into the contest. The computers will provide total sensory output: audio, visual, olfactory (smell) and tactile (touch)".

Our games indeed draw us right in with the audio/visual, and of coursewe've had rumble and force feedback for years now... but the only time we get smell from our PS3 is when we've accidentally blocked its vents.


"Visually, an expanded screen could project images all around the player," says the article. Of course, it happened in 1999 with the three-screened Ferrari 355 Challenge in the arcades, and our 360s can do it with Forza 2 - if you can afford three 360s, three TVs and a steering wheel.


Above: Forza 2 in its full three-screened glory


The article goes on todiscuss sound output options forthe arcade game of the year 2000. "Such a machine could even blast the gamer with sound via headphones. Think about that for a second. Can you imagine the ambiance of a silent arcade? Now that would take some getting used to."

That's uncanny! Our local arcade is silent. It's also empty and boarded up. Yes, we're used to it now.


The article also mentions the way the technology was already overtaking the skills of a single programmer, adding that future game development could see entire teams of development staff.

Bet the thought of GTA IV's $100,000,000 budget and 150-strong development team would have had 1980s journos choking on their New Cokes.

Not to mention Eugene Jarvis (of Defender and Cruis'n USAfame) who, in that same issue of Joystik, had this to say about Defender:

Flying left and right FTW. Next - onto the '90s...

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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