a #TheFutureByDesign feature. Video games, otherwise known as computer games (although the computer in this case could be anything from an Xbox to a cellphone), are big business. Cukia aka “Sugar” Kimani of Soup With Bits takes a shot at predicting the future of games in South Africa.
The future of game design is exploring how you can reach a diverse audience of people. Instead of focusing on really core gamers, we’re focusing on interaction with people who don’t stereotypically play games. The casual market right now looks really good, because they’re appealing to audiences that don’t want to sit in front of a computer screen or a TV, but are exploring games in different interactive media.
It’s mobile, Jim, but not as we know it
Mobile right now, in terms of cellphones and tablets, is oversaturated. I think that there are exciting developments to be made in other devices, especially wearable technology and Virtual Reality. If you look at Google Glass, there are minimal games for it at the moment, but devices like that could open up more avenues for interesting game design that will attract that audience that doesn’t necessarily play games. Or there’s the new Apple Watch – I saw a game being developed by Bossa Studios that uses the Apple Watch, whereby you play as a spy, getting a little notification via your watch which then allows you to decide what the spy should do. So for me this is the new frontier to explore in the future of game design.
It’s easier now than ever before to get started in game design. There are a lot of good tools at the moment, such as GameMaker, Construct 2 and Unity, that don’t necessarily need programming knowledge. The fact is, game design is not necessarily about being able to program, it’s about being able to create interesting experiences.
It’s very important for marketers to take games seriously, especially as an advertising tool. Right now, I don’t think advertisers have cottoned on to the potential for games to be used by brands in innovative ways. Instead of cloning an existing game with branding plastered over it, or serving ads on free apps, marketers should think about using augmented reality, for example, or social gaming.
There are other ways that one could also look at it in how games can be used. In the US, a lot of big brands are learning to ‘gamify’ aspects of training for in-house software.
Gadgets & gizmos
We have what I call a DIY culture right now, looking at custom controllers. At the moment, you have a certain limit in terms of interfaces that you know your gamer will have – and this can affect the way you design games. So you’re not stuck with a keyboard and mouse, or a touch-screen – you could be working with different sensors in the room, devices like the Eye-Toy, and the Wii nunchuck. The big revolution, with 3D printing becoming more accessible, is that people can create their own style of controller to make with a particular game, which will in turn affect the game design.
The future is wide open!
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