This week at IFOG:
During Tawny Schlieski’s time at Intel, she has made it her job to work with budding new technologies and to anticipate the future. An avid fan of film and video games, she sees the two coming together at an increasing rate as the demand for genuinely interactive narrative increases.
Once upon a time, stories were told around campfires and in stone plazas. Afterwards, written literature commanded the storytelling of the world. In the last hundred years, movies and television shows have taken over. Now, though, Schlieski believes that video games are the next chief storyteller of our race.
There is a parable told a wise old woodcarver. He brought to his king a carved board with many pieces upon it, a game that he called “chess”. After playing, the king was delighted with the game and asked the man what reward he would have. The old man replied that he would like one grain of rice for the first square of the board, and double that amount for the next square, and so on. The king thought this an easily paid price and accepted. He was appalled, however, when his mathematician did the calculations. Halfway across the board he owed the man 4 billion grain; the contents of a large field. By the time the entire board was counted, the amount of rice owed was a pile larger than Everest. The number was so vast that it was inconceivable.
If you’ve heard of Moore’s law, you would know that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits has doubled roughly every two years. According to Schlieski, we are approaching “the other half of the board”, as she calls it. Soon, it will be impossible to predict the exponential increase of technology.
As game designers, we must be aware that the ground beneath our feet is constantly shifting, and will take us where the flow of demand leads. When Pong was released, it unleashed a boom of games with increasingly complicated physics, leading eventually to the 3D shooter games of today. Now, physics becomes an essentially mastered art in games, new releases put an increasing emphasis on personal choice, interactive narrative, and social consequences.