Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

Ray Ham­mond, the noted fu­tur­ist, re­cently told his fol­low­ers how screens may soon be in­fin­itely more tac­tile fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment by re­searchers at the Polytech­nic of Lausanne. “They’ve in­vented a new gen­er­a­tion of tac­tile sur­faces with re­lief ef­fects – users can feel ac­tual raised keys un­der their fin­gers,” he says.

He thinks that this tech­nol­ogy could have many ap­pli­ca­tions – in­clud­ing im­prov­ing ac­cess to elec­tronic me­dia for the vis­ually im­paired – and that by adding this ex­tra in­for­ma­tion to de­vices, it could im­prove their us­abil­ity and “thus im­prove the user ex­pe­ri­ence”.

Imagine a next-gen­er­a­tion iPad where you could phys­i­cally feel your­self pulling back your An­gry Bird, or flick­ing the ball in the lat­est in­stal­la­tion of Fifa’s pop­u­lar foot­ball fran­chise.

Phil thinks that the com­ing years might just start to show the blur­ring of bound­aries be­tween what we watch and what we play.

“Will we ac­tu­ally be ‘play­ing’ TV pro­grammes and films?” he pon­ders. “Game mak­ers will get much bet­ter at telling sto­ries and build­ing emo­tions. Soon games will move you to tears just as eas­ily as LesMisérables.”

Games de­signer Stéphanie Bouchard agrees. At the Mon­treal In­ter­na­tional Game Sum­mit last year, she said that game mak­ers needed to stop pro­duc­ing such “hol­low” games and bring more emo­tion into them.

“What makes us hu­man is the ways we in­ter­act with each other,” she said. “But in games we do it very poorly.” The abil­ity to do more with other char­ac­ters than just shoot them, she says, could be key.

Fur­ther down the line – let’s say 35 years, by which time Space In­vaders will have hit the grand­fa­therly age of 70 – games will be even more in­de­ter­minable from real life.

“By 2048, games could be very dif­fer­ent,” says Stu­art. “Al­though they will still be based on cre­at­ing a chal­lenge that you have to beat.”

He reck­ons games will in­creas­ingly in­volve bring­ing the phys­i­cal world into the game world, “Whether that’s col­lect­ing real-world ob­jects or hav­ing to visit cer­tain places to com­pete a level,” he sug­gests. “Games will get ever more vast. If you want to walk to the moun­tain in the dis­tance, chances are that in the games of to­mor­row that will be more than pos­si­ble.”

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