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.”