|The Eighth Annual Game Design Think Tank
Project Horseshoe 2013
|Group Report: The Next Big Thing|
|Participants: A.K.A. "The Carousel of Progrëss"|
|Steve Meretzky, GSN Games||Patricia Pizer, Way Too Far Games|
|Dave Warhol, Realtime Associates||Mirjam Palosaari Eladhari, Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta|
|Mohan Rajagopalan, PopCap Games||Jason Mai, Amazon.com|
|Nick Laing, EA SPORTS||Chris Birke, Intent|
|Christoph Birkhold, NaturalMotion Inc.|
|download the PDF|
Problem space / mission statement: In terms of games, what are the most promising new platforms, technologies, and genres in the near-term future (next five years), and what creative and business opportunities do they afford?
Process: The participants looked at previous generations of technologies and the games that were inspired by them so those patterns could be applied to new generations of technologies. Tech and game categories were mapped out. Then, participants made a deep dive on one near-term topic with low technical risk, and considered some of the categorical areas is more depth.
The questions that drove our conversation:
Content of this Report
The Last Next Things
Motion-Based Consoles (e.g. Wii, Eye-Toy, Kinect)
Music Peripherals (e.g. Guitar Hero, Rock B and)
Brain Training Games
Networked Mobile Gaming Device (e.g. Nintendo DS)
The Indie Movement
The group did a deep dive on one near-term topic with low technical risk (platforms already exist)
Examples in the market right now: Scrabble, Space Team, Commander Mode for Battlefield, and Coach Glass for sports titles. The latter is used to deepen the single-player experience, but would be even better with a local friend using it to coach you and turn you into more of a team.
Things will improve as tablets get more ubiquitous, as the market saturates. But obstacles remain: people don’t usually carry their tablets around, so requires appointment gaming. And different versions of operating systems and tablet specs.
Phones instead of tablets get rid of the appointment-based issue.
Downloading a client to every phone is a barrier, but not a big one… it’s generally known how to do that, and doesn’t take too long.
Space Team is probably too niche-y a theme. Themes like detective fiction or heist or James Bond would be more mainstream.
Examples of collocated multiplayer gaming: poker, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, charades, Just Dance, Rock Band, Heads Up! (Ellen Degeneres’ game). Characteristics: casual themes, easy-to-learn.
Pogo… casual games with chat rooms.
What about women, getting together socially anyway, pull out their phones and play slots in parallel while they continue socializing.
Multiplayer card games (gin, bridge, hearts, mahjong, etc.) Can play spontaneously without equipment, no need to shuffle or keep score. Lifetime scores, achievements. Can also start to layer in minor rules additions that wouldn’t be possible in real-world versions; special jokers and the like.
Branding problem: what do you call this genre to players? “Casual Collocated Multiplayer” isn’t going to cut it. Party games? Too confusing with Mario-Ware, etc.?
Like Rock Band, need a single player mode: 1) to learn without doing so in front of others 2) to get better at the game if you are very competitive 3) to get more value out of having the game.
EA Sports/Comcast experiment in the Boston area, 300,000 homes, games on your Comcast box + tablet as controller.
The team also considered other categorical areas. Some of the areas have been ‘hot’ but have then suffered backlashes in that technology was too immature. Some of these areas may now have reached a point where they can become the ‘next thing’.
Neurogaming. Not there yet. But will be terrifying when it happens. Will enable new styles of games… like having a controller with lots more analogue controls. When you can get to a point where you think something and it happens, that’s way better than any controller. Also, really portable. Gamification of meditation. Gamification of medication. Biometric piece, also. Like games that you play as you’re falling asleep (or helps you to fall asleep). Look for slices of life where there currently isn’t any gaming. Mirjam’s students looking at different hardware, analyzing fidelity. Ultra-high feedback for player performance. Coolness and intuitiveness. Limit to things that are unique to neurogaming.
Wearable Tech. Google glass. Smart watches. With you all the time. People in your vicinity don’t even know that you’re gaming. Social issues may interfere with popularity of this tech. How it looks matters even more than functionality. Memento – wearable camera that takes a photo every 2 minutes. Motion-tracking fabric. Athletic training gear that applies pressure in the right place.
Home 3D Printing. Print out in-game collectibles. Print your avatar. See success of Skylanders. Print out a 3D item with a barcode on it. Print out lego-like objects that can snap together. Turn a series of photos into a 3D-printed object. Customized controllers for each player.
Tablet + TV Gaming. Interaction between broadcast TV and interactive experiences … fantasy sports, side bets, live voting, etc. Time-shifted viewing plus interactivity.
Robotics. SF-based company, Game of Drones. Paintball guns on drone copters. In people vs. drones, drones won. If drones develop intelligence, we are done for. Real rock’em sock’em robots. Safe simulations … do something crazy but without danger. Control robots that go where you can’t normally go – in a cave, underwater, in the air over Paris. Go online, look for First Person View (FPV) videos. Roomba Frogger.
Proceduralism. Procedural characters that generate way more content than you could ever create by hand. Success of Minecraft driving this. Using computer created Ais to curate computer generated content. Personal Recommendation. Rating procedurally-generated content to tailor it to the player, and also to surface the best levels (or whatever).
Cloud-Based AI. One word: Skynet. Server-side processing. E.g. battle for Helms Deep happening in the background while you battle one orc in the foreground.
Computational Creativity. Must be novel, useful, surprising, impressive/rare. Need human evaluators. Now, combine those techniques with players doing (and we’re going to get technical here) stuff. See TED Talk about self-moving artificial creatures.
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