Will Video Games Be the Defining Medium of the 21st Century?

Question: How do video games fit into the media mix?
\r\n

Jesse Schell: It's certainly true that games are sort of a\r\n super set of all other media.  You can put a book in a game, you can \r\nput a movie in a game, you can put play in a game – you can put anything\r\n into a game.  But you can't necessarily put games into all these other \r\nmedia because when you look, when you take a step back, you're like \r\nwhat's going on with digital gaming?  Ultimately, any kind of media can \r\ngo in there, and as we kind of push into the 21st century, we're going \r\nto see this happening; we're going to see every kind of media getting \r\nsubsumed into video games.  I would have to think that by the end of the\r\n 21st century, video games will be the defining medium of the 21st \r\ncentury.

\r\nQuestion:
Are there technological barriers keeping people from being more emotionally engaged with video games?
\r\n

Jesse Schell:  I think the primary technological barrier \r\nthat keeps us from being more emotionally engaged with video games is \r\nthe barrier of speech.  Computers can talk, they have sound, they can \r\ntake touch inputs, they have cameras – but one of the things they really\r\n can't do is listen to us.  As Professor Chris Swain at USC—and he \r\nspeaks about this very eloquently–he points out that at the beginning of\r\n the 20th century we had silent film, and nobody took it very seriously \r\nas a medium; it was kind of a toy, it was kind of an amusement, a minor \r\nthing... until it learned to talk.  Once film could speak, suddenly it \r\nstarted to sort of take over the world.  By the end of the 20th century \r\nit was the dominant medium.  As he likes to put it, film became the \r\nliterature of the 20th century.  And he then suggests that games are in \r\nthe same place that silent films were, except that now it's not about \r\nthem talking – it's about them listening.

\r\nOnce you can have a meaningful conversation with an artificially created\r\n video game character with just your voice, the potential for this to be\r\n an emotional medium rapidly grows and just expands, and it will \r\nsuddenly become incredibly more natural.  This business of... there's \r\ntwo parts of it.  Part of it is just having computers understand speech,\r\n understand what we say, just understand the very words.  But then to \r\nunderstand it in context and to be able to form appropriate \r\nresponses...  As these two things start to grow and come together, we're\r\n going to see a medium like we've never seen before.

\r\nQuestion:
How would a video game’s ability to listen change the gaming experience?
\r\n

Jesse Schell:  When you look at the difference between \r\nliterature or film and video games and the types of stories that we \r\nhave, what we see in literature are stories that are very much about \r\npersonal drama, and emotion, and conflict.  When you see video games, \r\neverything is about action, everything's below the neck.  All the verbs \r\nthat are happening are jumping, and running, and moving.  Everything is \r\nabout the physical, and everything in literature is about the emotional,\r\n and film is somewhere in the middle because we can't necessarily hear \r\nwhat's going on inside people's heads in film, and we can see them.  So \r\nwe have this interesting mix in film.  What will happen is suddenly \r\nvideo games will be able to go over to the literature side but in a much\r\n more powerful way because you'll be able to have gaming experiences \r\nthat are all about interacting with characters in a very emotional, \r\nintense way.  We'll be able to have conversations with characters... \r\ngames where you'll... The verbs will change from running, and shooting, \r\nand jumping, and ducking to persuading, and antagonizing, and \r\nconvincing, and compelling, and begging, and pleading.  It'll be a very \r\ndifferent kind of game because as well as being able to sense just the \r\nwords that you've said and what you mean, it will be possible to sense \r\nthe emotion.  It's already... We can easily sense facial expression on \r\nsome level, and as technology improves we'll be able to sense that more \r\nand more and also be able to sense other emotions.  You won't be able \r\nto... There will be games where the only way you're able to win is by \r\nengaging in a meaningfully emotional way with a virtual character.  That\r\n has to be an incredibly powerful experience.

Recorded on June 21, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont

Video game technology is the medium that subsumes all others. Once these games have the ability to listen to humans, they’ll be even more emotionally enticing.

Space is dead: A challenge to the standard model of quantum mechanics

Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.

Videos
  • Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
  • In nature, properties of Particle B may be depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
  • In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.
Keep reading Show less

Vaping changes blood vessels after one use, even without nicotine

E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.


John Keeble
/GETTY
Surprising Science
  • A new study used an MRI machine to examine how vaping e-cigarettes affects users' cardiovascular systems immediately after inhalation.
  • The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
  • The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
Keep reading Show less

Russia sends humanoid robot to space, fails to dock with ISS

The Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.

Photos by TASS\TASS via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Russia launched a spacecraft carrying FEDOR, a humanoid robot.
  • Its mission is to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  • Such androids can eventually help with dangerous missions likes spacewalks.
Keep reading Show less