A First Person Future

[THIS IS A RE-POST OF SOMETHING WRITTEN IN 2011]

holodeckI’ve been wondering about the far-flung future of video games; the direction we’re headed in if one allows themselves to imagine hundreds of years into the future. Pointless, granted, but interesting none the less. Positing some kind of Star Trek-esque holo-deck seems a fairly safe bet. Either that or some Avalon/Matrix style plug-in-and-play method of virtual reality. In fact, that’s actually probably more like it – god bless you Virtual Boy!

I get the feeling that all games will one day be first person. Think about a film where there are really high-tech iterations of virtual entertainment. Invariably the ‘player’ will be in some kind of environment (the holo-deck), or plugged into a device that transports a virtual self into a virtual world (Avalon or the Matrix). In all these instances, while we the viewer see the events in the third-person, for the actual player, events unfold from their own perspective. And that makes sense.

A third person view very much arises from the position the player is in when controlling the action. When looking at a screen at distance it makes sense that the virtual avatar should similarly be distanced in the virtual space. This is largely how film is framed. It is therefore logical, conceptually, that taking control of something/someone else should also be done in this way. But taking control of something/someone is totally different from actually being that person/thing. Current FPS games aren’t all that immersive given the situation the player is in, (probably sitting on their bed or sofa) but in essence they could be. In essence they could be immersive to the point of fooling the brain into thinking you are actually somewhere else.

I guess so long as genres such as puzzle games exist then different perspectives will remain. I can’t imagine playing future-Tetris from a first person view no matter the technology. Although I can totally see a situation whereby to ‘play’ Tetris, you log into the holo-deck or whatever and then play a virtual Tetris as your virtual self. That’d be in the first person, sort of, in the same way life and playing Tetris now is in the first person. Weird.

There is a twinge of sadness to all of this. I’m not the world’s greatest player of FPS games and, as much as I’d like to posit my genuine self into a game environment, it’d be strange to think that unique game experiences (such as JRPGs or third-person shooters as we know and understand them today) could die out with the onset of more immersive technology. But then again, if I could fool myself (with technology) into the belief that I was in a fantasy world, off to slay monsters with a party of friends, all from my own perspective and as real as real life. Yeah, I’d play that.