Gaming in 2020: what the next decade holds

The so-called 'Natural User Interface' is definitely gaming's new Holy Grail, with Sony and Microsoft currently working hard on developing their own motion-control technologies to compete with (and better) the huge strides made by the Nintendo Wii in the last decade, in an attempt to appeal to an ever-widening audience of casual gamers.

"Perhaps the most crucial factor to a paradigm shift in new motion control schemes are whether all audiences accept it to ensure profitability," argues Ubisoft MD, Rob Cooper. "The game controller has been and is still the accepted input amongst core gaming audiences, so we need to ensure they accept these new forms of input, too. Microsoft has iterated on Nintendo's offering with Project Natal in introducing a paradigm shift, and Ubisoft is supporting Natal with over 10 products in development."

Project natal promises the next step in motion control

IN MOTION: Project Natal promises the next step in motion control

So it is something of a no-brainer to assume that hands-free motion gaming (in combination with new 3D technologies and the like) will be leveraged more and more in the coming decade. The real key, as ever, is whether or not the games that you play on them will work better than the traditional style games we currently play via our fingers and thumbs (or, via mouse and keyboard, in the case of PC gaming).

Screen Digest's gaming analyst Steve Bailey, agrees, telling TechRadar, "how far [motion control] progresses will, as always, come down to sufficiently innovative software rather than any wishful thinking on behalf of the industry itself (and that innovation will, increasingly crucially, be a function of design AND service, rather than simply the former)."

The Screen Digest man also thinks that, "we'll continue to see elements of gaming, especially the ideas of 'comfort food' mechanics, creeping into our lives, and arguably for the better, via what we currently see as wellness gaming and lifestyle management."

"Anyone who gripes about this being 'a bit like the Matrix' will seem as fusty and unwilling as any parent who ever failed to get to grips with a TV remote. Ten years ago, of course, the idea of us being able to publish and broadcast virtually every element of lives, via a real-time spree of multimedia content and ambient intimacy on increasingly flexible social networks, must've seemed like a bit of a queasy pipe dream to some."

Project Natal is currently the most interesting technology in this arena, not only because of the 'you become the controller' tagline, but more because of the fact that you don't even have to learn anymore how to use a controller.

"I have a couple of sons who are aged 14 and 11 now, and these days they've come to terms with the Xbox 360, but a couple of years ago when they were just that much younger, I would sometimes find them in tears as they struggled to learn how to get to grips with the controller in a new game," says Richard Huddy, Senior Manager of Developer Relations at AMD. "It is just really quite difficult to learn that. So everything that we can do to get rid of complexity in game control is a good thing."

Adam Hartley