The Top 7... failed futures of gaming

Cooler. Faster. More immersive. That's how we like our games, and the industry is all to eager to provide. Whether it's a brand new console, a new controller or a new way of paying for new in-game underwear, we're constantly being smashed in the face with the next big thing.

Sometimes it works out (thankyou, online gaming and polygonal graphics), but sometimes, despite the best efforts of developers to shape the future of how we play, the idea falls straight onto its arse and doesn't get back up. Somewhere, in some divergent parallel reality, these ideas rule the games industry. In this one, they were just crap.

7. Motion control

The promise

A whole new world of video game interaction. A stronger sense of 'being there' than ever experienced before. Simple, instinctive control for the previously gamephobic and intricate, nuanced control for the hardcore, turning already loved genres into experiences so real that you could well die upon switching off your console. And don't think it all started with the Wii. Just check out how long the dream has been alive via this so-fashionable-it-could-have-been-made-tomorrow training video for Sega's Activator controller for the Mega Drive/Genesis.

Isn't it just rad? 

The crushing reality


Above: And he was only playing Peggle 

No-one ever performed a decapitation fatality by miming it in the living room. Which is good, because if they had, they would have looked like a twat. If indeed, they'd even been capable of physical movement by the end of round two. You see there's a reason video games use buttons on controllers. They're an easy and relatively exertion-free way of producing precision inputs over long periods of time. Motion control is good for simple, repeated actions during bite-sized chunks of gameplay, but for the variety of actions required in exploring a whole game world? It fails on the most basic conceptual level.

Plus, at the moment, the tech is just plain rubbish. Crap sword fighting and an awful lot of crashed dragons. That's the current reality of motion control.

6. Multimedia 'games'

The promise

A whole new world of utterly lifelike games, populated with real people rendered with movie-quality visuals and movie-quality sound. Want the photorealistic games of the future but can't be bothered to wait the necessary thirty years for the technology to become available? No problem! The '90s had you covered. Forget those dull grey and black cartridges. The shiny  compact disc was less a digital storage medium, more a magic mirror that let you look into the future! 


Above: Not in-game footage. Graphics representative of gameplay only

The crushing reality

Yep, we got movie-quality visuals and movie-quality sound, but only because multimedia games virtually were movies. ie. barely video games. ie. they had no gameplay. ie. they were no fun to play. ie. because you couldn't play them. Lengthy video clips which occasionally prompted you to press a button to continue, that's what we got. There was as much gameplay held within as you'd find in a DVD player with a broken pause function.

And actually, thanks to the compression technology of the day, those visuals and sound were only really movie quality if your local cinema screened films on a sheet of A4 through a small pane of dirty glass. Out of focus.


Top 7


  • scorcher64 - February 21, 2013 4:13 p.m.

    I can see a spot reserved on this list for 3D/Steroscopic games, glasses, TVs, etc. we have now.
  • TheBoz - March 15, 2010 9 p.m.

    Here is a notion. In the news today was an article about a blind soldier that attached a piece of equipment connected to a pair of glasses with cameras to his toungue, this in turn sent information through his senses to the brain enabling him to see. Could THIS be the way forward in Virtual reality? It is an interesting piece of technology and a very interesting concept.
  • Fiirestorm21 - February 13, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    To say Telltale is the only developer so far who has done episodic gaming well is a fair argument, but the nonsense about the HL2 episodes being a failed experiment need to stop. The whole point from the beginning was that they'd be shorter but cheaper and take less time to come out. Shorter? Yep, though still ironically about as long as most mainstream shooters these days. Cheaper? You betcha. And the last time I checked, three episodes are coming out in the same amount of time it took Valve do a full-scale single entry in the series. So, last time I checked, that would mean that they are being released more frequently. Not to mention that saying it's taken 3-4 years for Episode Three since Episode One completely skips over that little game in there called Episode Two. Come on, people, basic math isn't all that hard. Though, granted, like I said at the top, I agree Telltale is the only company to do episodic gaming well in the way gamers envisioned it. @drawed - Considering the success of Steam in addition to the successes of Xbox Live Arcade and the PSN store (both of which you mentioned but seemed to undercut substantially), I wouldn't say digital distribution is a failed future. Simply that we're not completely where we want to be doesn't mean that it's a failed future. That would be like saying our trip to Kansas failed because we're still in Kansas. Doesn't exactly make much sense.
  • Romination - February 11, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    I'm calling it, the fiber diet metaphor made my fucking DAY
  • Yeager1122 - February 10, 2010 4:23 p.m.

    haha love the virtual reality one.
  • Duckmaster - February 10, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    I never played it when it first came out, but my mom got me a Virtual Boy a few years ago and I love it! It's graphics may not be the best, but the red and black coloring of every game is interesting and for some games, it has great 3D for when it was released.
  • mentalityljs - February 10, 2010 1:40 a.m.

    Goodness, the only thing keeping Sega CD alive in my head is Eternal Champions. That shit kicked ASS! I think I've only known one person my entire life who's ever owned a 3DO. And Virtual Boy, LMAO. I remember playing it and burning my eyes out at Blockbuster when it first came out. They had the right idea, just WAY too ahead of it's time.
  • upUPandAWAY - February 9, 2010 6:49 p.m.

    hahaha! 3DO. I had the first version with the flip top not the auto sliding disc loader thingy. That system was so far advanced compared to the others out at that time. Road Rash was the whole reason I bought it. Does anybody remember "R.I.S.E. of Robots"? For anyone who doesn't remember that game, just think of a fighting game with only 6 battles and no music. It did however have exceptional graphics (at the time) and full motion video for the characters.
  • 8bitBaby - February 9, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    daawww... the future is fail.
  • AuthorityFigure - February 9, 2010 12:07 p.m.

    My advice to you, fellow gamers, is not to wait for any Half-Life 2: Episode Anything. Valve seem very arrogant to me.
  • GameManiac - February 9, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    I can only imagine the money that eye doctors have made with Virtual Boy reladed cases...
  • RebornKusabi - February 9, 2010 1:23 a.m.

    Ah my childhood! How many useless abandonware was released during that period lol
  • robotechandnarutosucks - February 9, 2010 12:46 a.m.

    LOL at the last pic.
  • MaynardJ - February 8, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    Sega CD, 32X, 3DO, Virtua Boy... I remember all of these. Damn, the 90s were exciting! Thankfully the Activator never made it to Europe, this is the first time I read about it. Thank heaven for the choices my brother and I made back then; SNES and Megadrive (European name for Genesis), after that PC and Playstation. We're both still gaming omnivores. Episodic gaming still looks interesting, at least the way Telltale does it. I just finished a free episode of Sam & Max and I'm interested in more of it, but I'd still like it on a disk. I do want all three HL2 episodes, but once the third is complete they'll probably release a new Orange Box and I'll buy that. Which means I still haven't played the main game... life's not fair.
  • Cyberninja - February 8, 2010 11:28 p.m.

    as long as the new sonic episodes are good it will be fine by me
  • WonsAuto - February 8, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    Holy crap, that picture of the fat guy with Short Round is gold!
  • farsided - February 8, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    um...let's see. Motion control is booming, and eventually it will be able to capture small hand gestures (aka Minority Report). So that hasn't failed. Episodic content works for the most part (Sam and Max anyone?), but citing valve taking forever to release Episode 3 does not cement your argument. Virtual Reality is in essence dealing with 3D, and while the stupid little helmets didn't work (come on, it was too far ahead of it's time) CES'09 or whatev basically proved how into 3D and immersion people are. So while VR basically hit a 10 year road bump, it didn't fail, it just had to wait for the technology to catch up with the concept. So only 4 of the 7 were spot on. WEAK.
  • Madserj - February 8, 2010 8:33 p.m.

    To be fair, the Sega thing looked ok, but I bet that 1-800 number was in meltdown on the first week. That has to be the most complicated controller ever.
  • OberKommando44 - February 8, 2010 8:29 p.m.

    Ugh Virtual reality, another 60 bucks down the drain :(
  • twewy13 - February 8, 2010 8:20 p.m.

    hah, virtual reality, super fail...

Showing 1-20 of 32 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000