Where Will Gaming Go?

This week, some of the world’s biggest game developers have all landed in San Francisco for the Game Developers’ Conference. Overall, this year, games have seen a revenue increase of 43% in the US.

Of course, this past year has seen the rise of the Nintendo Wii, or in particular the rise of casual games as a whole. These are the games that can take only seconds to load and minutes to play, rather than the many hours of say a Final Fantasy game.

The interesting thing about the casual game market has been that many more people have suddenly become interested in games. There was even talk of Nintendo having to pull their Wii advertisements in the UK due to the company not being able to supply demand.

Further to this, both Microsoft and Sony have introduced downloadable games that will enable users to access classic and newer arcade style games. Whereas previously the industry had been quite insular (with rare hits such as Halo expanding outside of the medium) games like Guitar Hero, Rockband and Wii Sports are crossing a divide traditionally held between gamers and non-gamers.

Of course, gaming will always love its core audience. Without the buyers of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or Silent Hill we wouldn’t see the games that are crossing boundaries at the moment. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is one such game that will be demoed at the show, highlighting superior physics (amongst many gameplay elements) that will draw a more hardcore audience.

The last year has also seen a big difference in how people interact with their games on consoles. The Wii is the most obvious example, but we’ve also got a motion sensitive six-axis on the PS3 and wireless and a wonderful online hub on the Xbox 360. Gaming has come out of the bedroom, so to speak.

There are wide variety of genuine representatives of the gaming development community including John Schappert (Microsoft Corporate Vice President), Rob Pardo (VP, Blizzard Entertainment) and Peter Molyneux (of Lionhead Studios fame).

Just looking at Peter Molyneux’s session, I’m already interested. Here, he takes the opportunity to talk about the ‘big three’ features of Fable 2:

Peter Molyneux’s stated ambition as a designer is to make FABLE 2 a landmark game. In order to achieve this three big design features have been added. The inspiration and rational behind these features will be discussed along with their evolution throughout the development process. The wider context of their impact and influence on the RPG genre will also be examined as the ambition is also to evolve the genre itself. The talk will be supported by retrospective videos as well as live game examples.

If you’re serious about games but can’t go – make sure to take a look at the GDC 08 website – it’s filled with really useful information on what makes game developers tick. The thing is, if you play games, the chances are that what makes them tick will be that latest ‘must have’ in a years time.

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