Growing up in the Future

Thanks servers, nice one internet. Now we can’t forget any of the things. No-one can. It’s logged somewhere. This is the future, sunshine.

We’ve grown up in era that records time differently to any other. We are our own surveillance system. The keyboard’s mightier then the pen! Unless there’s a power cut. Of course, we are not the first to witness life changing technology but we are the coolest and most rad, because we can tell everyone, IN CAPS, directly to one another.

Reminds me. I must ask my parents what it was like growing up with the introduction of the magic moving picture boxes. The very same boxes we carry around in our pockets and strap to our eyeballs to enter. We are living in Willy Wonka times.

willy wonka

Technology’s great isn’t it!

What’s it like growing up with computer games and more importantly, what’s next?

basketballIn a lifetime we’ve seen hilarious pixel blobs converted into photo-realistic humans, simulated societies where tic-tac-toe once reigned and who can forget shooting things in the face. An entire entertainment business has sprung in a bit of a lifetime. Tutorials are commonplace, controls systems have been standardised. How do you jump again? Oh yes, that button that is always jump, excellent. All of this is better.

zx spectrum

Rubber buttons. Sexy.

ZX Spectrum!

Look in the mirror. Look at your watery eyes as you remember. Remember your childhood. Not working? hang on…

The Nintendos!

Did that work? No… ok. The Amigas! The Segas! Nintendos (again)! Atario’s! Other things. You’ll recall things and enjoy it dagnabbit.


stylish grey. Nice.

The generation that grew up with these new-fangled computer games have got kids, they’ll grow up like I did with television.

It’s just a normal everyday thing.

It’s not magic when it has always been there. That’s cool, your kids will see the world a whole lot differently to your parents, ya know, those people that insisted you get out the bloody house, off that bloody machine to see some bloody sunshine.

The bug

I rather disliked this control stick. Oppffh, stick.

A secretive, but mild arrogance comes with witnessing the birth of a new medium. Nostalgia’s a tricky menace to control. It was better in them days (it wasn’t). You didn’t have terrible publishers back then (you did). It was a simpler time (fuck that, I want GTA). You forget the long loading times, the silly control systems, the limitations. Yes, the imagination has been curtailed by greedy exploitative arsemonkeys and we do enjoy some terrible business practices, but we are lucky that new experiences are still appearing and the entire industry is maturing.

It’s weird to use the word “industry” when talking about computer games, but that’s exactly where it is now. A giant machine.

In the quite recent past we have been subjected to games which were so bad, you couldn’t finish them (1% review). It’s nice to see Steam having a good go at recreating that heady time with unchecked early access games, but in general, quality control is mostly present, although I do lament for the days before day one patches, or patches in general.


Push up to be hero. Tutorials can be informative and exciting!

Information on your potential game purchases are readily available. If you buy something broken or you absolutely hate it, in this day and age, it’s almost certainly your own fault. In the past you were relying on potentially unwholesome individuals or organisations for your hyped content. Rise of the Robots was utter shite but the majority of the popular gaming press were swept away with the hype. Back then getting a rube to pre-order such a thing was the holy grail, now it’s the norm. Oh how the publishers must be laughing in your face. Well, the ones that are still around.

the fat controller

“Hey ladies” – a publisher, yesterday

Talking of publishers, have a look at Star Citizen. Did you hear? This crowd funding space simulator from the creator of Wing Commander made over $124 million. Directly from fans of the genre. He-he-he, the publishers said no-one was interested in flight sims. Or point and click adventure games, or old fashioned RPG’s. From floppy discs to flopping publishers, the modern bedroom coder returns from his long exile to cater to us directly.


Commando, no, not that one.


It’s weird to think some children won’t enjoy the pleasure of a sassy anthropomorphised animal in a side scrolling platform game.




For a spell, computer games desperately wanted to be Hollywood. Looking at the films being produced, coming soon and in production we can see a major shift in tastes. Although some chancers always willing to revisit an idea. I missed out on the early 90’s obsession with making terrible interactive movies. Even as a kid it looked shite.

We have more choice and ideas. Thanks to crowdfunding we have seen the return of genres and a push for niche experiences. This in turn has encouraged the larger publishers to take a few more chances. Thanks to the internet, people can once again afford to become a lil’ more niche.

Once upon a time the games industry, as a whole was niche.

Call of Duty

Bang. Plus another bang. An’ again.

A quick thought on the megastar games like Call of Duty. It’s a fine game. I’ve no interest in playing the same first person shooter every year, but it’s not for me. Many a ‘gamer’ has mocked games that have transcended the medium (at least for a spell). The truth is they are bigger then blog posts. Some people that buy such games won’t read about it, nor comment or blog. The publisher doesn’t really care about criticism or your ranting comments, they care about sales.

We all have home computers in our pockets! It fun to see a generation of older people, the same people who had a go at me for messing about all day with computers playing the equivalent of this.

scotched tanks

Scotched Tanks. Coming to a console near you.

These were the kinda games I was playing all those years ago. The worlds caught up to the generation of mocked nerdy-nerd-faces. You are all nerds now, nice isn’t it. Now are playing Pokemon with augmented reality, now we hold knowledge in the palm of our hands at all times. No, that was not a reference to porn.

So we are living in the future, what comes after that! Oh… more future? Ok.

Some say the future is virtual reality. Others say it’s mobile gaming and augmented reality. I suspect it will, largely, remain the same.

All the batmans

All the batmans are good. I’d take new batman over old.

I suspect traditional computer games and Virtual Reality walk different paths. Separate entities. Much the same as film and television. Unless VR dies off due to a lack of interest or more accurately, no-one but developers and hobbyists pay for it (highly unlikely), it appears ill-suited to the traditional computer game format. In it’s current guise it appears to be more useful as a communication tool. Give it a fair few years when the gigantic cable problem’s been addressed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see VR as the new standard office conference call. Slip the fancy glasses on and you’re in the virtual boardroom. Boring and practical.

The current virtual reality experiences are absolutely jaw dropping. They deserve the hype. As a friend remarked to me, “Valve’s The Lab has already shown off all the incredible things VR can do, it’s the Wii sports of VR.” Now the challenge is to grow these experiences into something with more depth.

batman VR

Who are you?

VR gaming might require additional things before it can transcend into the new medium that sits in everyone’s front room. Wireless technology? Haptic gloves (Haptic pants; seedy). A better way to record player movement, improved voice recognition software, true next generation Kinect?  All this technology perfected and mashed together in a slick package.

Update – Last night I got to play with actual, off the shelf technology. Some of these fanciful technology ideas are already peeking round the corner. Full report here!

I’m hoping I get to see such another new beginning in whatever shape it forms. A new generation of children will get to mature with it and hopefully I’ll be an old dribbling sod, staring into a black and white telly, whilst telling you the dark web was greener back in my day.