Old predictions of the future of gaming

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 and covered 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 with a 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 units like 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 games with 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 games online. 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.


  • nik41507 - December 18, 2009 12:59 a.m.

    I just rediscovered this article 7 months and 18 days later
  • GG Gabby - May 4, 2009 3:42 p.m.

    It's great how they tried to predict what would happen in the future.........But the smell your games thing is just
  • pogo - May 3, 2009 12:11 p.m.

    you guys missed the 1970s
  • Styrophoamicus - April 30, 2009 7:43 p.m.

    K that football pic kinda freaked me out. It probably does say SEGA. Call Timecop
  • Gothbot6k - April 30, 2009 10:13 a.m.

    Stupid Dreamcast lol.
  • iKOemos - April 30, 2009 4:21 a.m.

    Really good article, one of the best I have read in a while. This really makes me think about the future and how incredible, expensive or cheap and casual gaming might get.
  • nik41507 - April 29, 2009 11:40 p.m.

    amazing how accurate this is. and i bet that Nintedo is making 2 new consoles at the moment. there that sneaky. amazing article and............ 20TH!!!!!!!!! plus the reCAPTCH right now is "virginal ideas" ?????????
  • vic88 - April 29, 2009 9:51 p.m.

    I predict that 09 will be weaker than 08
  • Demonflare - April 29, 2009 8:57 p.m.

    Dude soon everyones gonna run out of ideas to make more games. So far most of the games in 09 sux. >_< Like movies, their running out of ideas and now movies sux to.
  • peaceful765 - April 29, 2009 4:12 p.m.

    Osbourne books ruled in the eighties. I still have a couple somewhere. Learnt a lotfrom those little robots. I suddenly feel old.
  • NipplesTheSuperHippo - April 29, 2009 3:21 p.m.

    at first I thought this was a joke, a lot of the predictions were almost spot on. The one I was really pondering was the handheld LCD screen. I lolz at the Dreamcast. This was really cool, thanks, and good work.
  • Xplosive59 - April 29, 2009 3:21 p.m.

    it is amazing that gaming has come so far if a movie is 5 years old it is considered recent but in gaming terms 5 years is a millenium
  • Warewullf - April 29, 2009 1:15 p.m.

    "The overlay may be crude, but the kid's online. Expect him to start calling everyone 'bitch' any second now..." I actually, honestly, LOL'd at this.
  • noobeater - May 1, 2009 6:31 p.m.

    @spybreak /\ lol anyway great article and it is really amazing and/or interesting how these visions have been somewhat realised.
  • Spybreak8 - May 1, 2009 4:56 a.m.

    HAHA, just add an antenna to anything and you're wireless pal, boom!
  • JoeMasturbaby - April 30, 2009 9 p.m.

    havnt read an article this great in awhile it seems. beautiful work sir.
  • iluvmyDS - April 30, 2009 2:24 a.m.

    Wow, I can't believe how much of these were realized. It seems predicted gaming technology happens, whereas it hasn't happened in other ways i.e. flying cars and such. captcha: 74' fumbler
  • Mavarious - April 30, 2009 2:19 a.m.

    I predict that in the grand and glorious and nigh unreachable future year of 2030 we'll have games that shoot right into your brain and circumvent the need for a tv. 50 years after that we will have evolved into pure energy form and it won't matter anyway. Yep, that's how it's gonna go down. recaptcha: calm The f*ck down
  • GeneralTickTock - April 30, 2009 1:26 a.m.

    Those 60's. Just HILARIOUS
  • EatShorts8 - April 30, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    :o that 1960's movie was weirdly accurate :/

Showing 1-20 of 33 comments

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