Gaming in the Future

Game Shot: Unreal Tournament

If you don’t enjoy games now, you will.

The entertainment industry has no plans to leave your living room anytime soon. The market for electronic games is expanding. Today’s games yield more realism than ever, which yields more fun, which yields more sales. But, what about tomorrow’s? What might an electronic game look like in the future after gaming has become a mainstream form of entertainment? What will the platform be like? What moral challenges will it present.

Many have written about the future of gaming predicting which current hardware platform will prevail in the near term or perhaps theorizing how gamers will frolic in a virtual playground in the far out future. Let’s speculate about the gaming world a few decades from today, a time before most of us have undergone the real life respawning process known as death. In movie chronology we are somewhere between Lawnmower Man and A.I. If Moore’s Law of processor power doubling every 18 months is still in effect, we will be gaming on systems with speeds well over 10,000 Ghz. Of course, by this time Silicon Valley may have been renamed Bio Valley or Molecular Valley because processors will likely be based on some form of nanotechnology. Don’t worry, we’re not going to get bogged down in the details of specific technologies. We’ll take a general view and have some fun speculating.

No matter how far technology advances, certain aspects of gaming will remain constant. The plots and characters of today’s role playing games will likely remain. Such elements as the marksmanship of shooters, the thrill of speed in the racing genre, the classic dogfight of flight sims, and the strategizing of the oldest game in the world, chess will continue until our swords are beaten into plowshares. We would expect the basic elements that charm the human heart to remain intact.

One of the most fascinating and believable visions of future entertainment systems is Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Holographic Environment Simulator or Holodeck. Designed unabashedly for the purpose of relaxation and recreation on long, stressful, interplanetary voyages, the Holodeck allows users to run programs to experience a historical period, work out a personal problem, or just have fun. The Holodeck does such a good job of simulating reality that crewmembers sometimes have difficulty distinguishing real characters from virtual ones.

We’re probably a long way away from having a coin-op Holodeck in every truck stop, yet we can all see the day coming when a game character appears as a real human. Ultimately, we will end up with a gaming platform that simulates reality in a very convincing way. How can we know that the Holodeck-style experience is inevitable? Because that’s what we want. And technology and capitalism always ensure that we eventually get what we want.

What characteristics will the game platform of the future have?

It will be social

Outside of solitaire and single player pc and console titles, most games have historically required human interaction. The need for an opponent or team-mate will always exist because no gamer is an island. The emergence of clans that compete in ladders and leagues are just a foretaste of what will happen when gaming becomes mainstream. Professional electronic gaming league games will one day entertain millions of fans.

It will arouse all 5 senses

Human sensory experience is limited to the 5 senses. It’s just a matter of time before game developers are able to capitalize on each of them. Not only will we feel your pain, but see, hear, taste and smell it. Today’s typical hardware stimulates senses of sight, hearing, and perhaps feeling (ForceFeedback). We should be seeing hardware devices reach beyond a simple view screen and speakers to stimulate the other senses as well.

Eventually, there must be some type of hardware display revolution that visually immerses the gamer instead of simply painting a flat screen with pixels as today’s computer monitors and television screens do. Electronic gaming will make a quantum leap when a new type of display device is invented to replace the monitor/TV screen. Such a device, once developed, standardized, and mass produced, will provide the level of realism needed to attract large numbers of consumers to the electronic gaming playground. Perhaps at this point electronic gaming will enter the mainstream and compete with the film industry.

Ethereal Technologies has developed a graphics display technology which may lay the groundwork for a new visual display revolution. The Volumetric Imaging Systems or VIS4D workstation allows users to perceive real-time 3D images without the use of glasses. According to the company’s website, interacting with 3D video game characters and environments is one of the potential uses. Even if this specific technology is not the one that revolutionizes the visual experience of gaming, it does show that developers understand the potential for a realistic holographic display device.

Listen up. Instead of merely hearing the sound of an explosion and seeing its effects, a future gamer will feel the shock waves as well. One current product that demonstrates this idea is the Rumblefx™ headphones, which according to the company “actually shake and vibrate for a totally addictive sensation that takes the virtual reality of positional audio all the way.” Perhaps someone will even develop a audio device for games that transmits sound through the skin similar to Dr. Patrick Flanagan’s Neurophone, currently used to assist the deaf in hearing.

We have all seen arcade racers that tilt and jolt players for effect. Some flight sim maniacs even use gaming chairs to simulate position. When discussing the sense of touch, Microsoft’s ForceFeedback technology immediately comes to mind. As a stick, its vibratory effect is limited; but if adapted to future hardware, it could portend some serious seismic fun. Imagine simulating an earthquake in the Holodeck.

Love the smell of napalm the morning? Plans to utilize the sense of smell in future games are already underway. A company called Digiscents (  has developed the iSmell device, which they say is a “speaker-sized computer peripheral device that attaches to the serial or USB port of your personal computer and plugs into a standard electrical outlet and emits naturally-based vapors into the user’s personal space.”

Jonathan Seidenfeld, a Director at Digiscents says, “Just as the PlayStation revolutionized interactive games, the iSmell will take games to the next level of immersion and realism.” It’s said that this thing actually works. Over 2000 game developers have signed up to use the sdk.

How game developers might integrate the sense of taste into future games is unknown. It would certainly mean potential revenue gains for Starbucks, Sara Lee, and Baskin Robbins. I suppose even the best holographic cheese cake would not completely fool the taste buds, the wisest of all the five senses.

It will be affordable

One of the factors that allowed pc sales to explode in the 80’s was the low cost. If we accept that computers and gaming consoles are affordable today, then tomorrow’s gaming platform will likely sell in a reasonable price range. Some advertising slogans could be “Keep your little ones off dangerous streets and out of a filthy environment. Try our safe and clean 3d gaming environment” or “Teach your children family values in a our Father/Son Classic Capture the Flag Tournament.”

It will be customizable

User maps, skins, models, will likely be traded throughout Internet user communities just like they are today. Of course a 3d holography file will be a lot bigger and more detailed than the current Quake variety. Hopefully, 56k modems will be found only in museums by that time.

It will be educational

If we want to instill knowledge into our future children, we will have to do it through this future gaming platform. Every child will demand one on the pain of mutiny. When the educational support is integrated with this powerful vehicle for entertainment, the didactic power of games will be realized. Outcries against why Johnny can’t frag will make government regulation likely. Who knows? Governments may even subsidize them if there are enough outcries against the entertainment divide.

When does gaming become dangerous?

The future of gaming has potential to become beneficial or destructive to society, just as any other technology. The future gaming system will be so realistic and interactive that the representation of nudity and violence may begin to become a concern even to those outside the censorship crowd. Marketing a Holodeck-style gaming system would bring about much controversy and many moral questions. Would you want your child to go over to the Jones’s for games if he were going to compete in gladiatorial combat in which opponents were indistinguishable from real people? Would you want to kill something that looked, sounded, and smelled real as in the Flesh Fair scene of A.I.?

Will consumers want this realistic gaming experience so much that it turns to an addiction? Will their sense of reality be blurred? In the movie Westworld, customers pay to participate in an amusement park that simulates a western setting that allows the fulfilling of fantasies like robbing banks, sex, gunfights, etc. Expendable robots act out the parts of characters with whom the customers interact. One customer finally asks, “How do I know that the person I killed was a robot?” The lead characters eventually become callous to promiscuity and violence. Of course, the robots malfunction and start killing the customers as an angry robot Yul Brynner seeks revenge.

Gaming in the Future originally appeared in Gamezilla.

Emory Rowland

I'm editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire, fanatical social media blogger and builder of Internet things from way back. My love for social media and success with organic search led me to start my own consulting company. Apart from the Internet, I could be considered pretty worthless. More...


  1. travis cardinell

    I believe the video game industry will continue to grow every 18 months like it has been since the release of the first PC. The five sences idea is one of the best things ive heard and one of the only things that i can see happening next because it is deffinetly a possiblity and like you said people are working on full filling the need for the five senses with the sense of smell, sight, fell, and hearing. I don’t think that the need of taste is that important because when do you honestly need to taste something in real life other then if its sweat, or a toxic chemical. I think the future of gaming will turn into a giant MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) because i have played this type of game and it is very addicting and people love it because you can do so much but in the future you will be able to do even more like you can walk over to the race track and play a racing game or you can go into a arena and play a FPS (first person shooter) etc. The only thing that I see is that stoping the industry from booming to its potential is law and morals, People already have been complaining about GTA 3 being to realistic and thinking that people are goign to go around killing other people and thats going to be come more of a problem when the next series of consules are released because they are going to have better graphics and more chaos. I myself have never actually wanted to kill someone for playing a video game but I have goten into arguments over games about what ones are better and then it makes me wana fight them but i wouldn’t go to the extent of killing someone or actually hurting another human being. Videogames make me angry but thats what they are made for, they are made to play with our emoutions and to make us connect with the people in the game because if a consule gets you to connect with the people in the game you are more likely to go play that game some more or spend more money on it. I can go on and on and on about this topic but unfortunaltly i have to achive in life some how I would one day hope that I will be able to help video games grow as a industry in any way possible but until then I will continue to play video games no matter what people say

  2. The future of gaming is going holodek which everybody wants. Think of parapalegics who will be able to walk, run, and or possibly fly. Think of people who will desire to travel to foreign planets and hunt aliens. Also people who desire all the desires of their imagination with ways to experience from the comfort of their home.

  3. I.B. Clapper

    The future of gaming is…. The Clapper

  4. Bach Herring

    I love this article i was thinking about the same things like i though about the scent one while playing call of duty smelling the wet rain in downpour. I would think i would see something like pressure pads for you can touch objects and feel the textures. And it will also bring peace possibly to the world when people are down they can be happy by putting on a helmet and be somewhere more peacefull like on a beach or driving in a car. And it will be like they are really happy. Also it should be a great way for long distance friends and family to communicate if they are in a virtual and with their loved ones.If you have a crappy house put on the old game systym and watch a movie in the sky on a beach or just on a better tv. Even be in the movie. There will be so much fun in the future of gaming and entertainment people will have everything they dreamed of. And also if the games get to real that parents are worried about they should have detectors to verify your age. Like an id where it makes sure your the right size and knows who you are and also people in the online play will see you and know you are a kid or an adult. I have so much more to say but its getting late.I love this article.And i would love to work on making the gaming world better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Fabian Ahmed

    I love this article. Im only fifteen and wanting to be in the videogame industry. It would be cool if instead of crouching on games like COD4 you could actually move around lean up against a wall or stand on your head lol, and be able to chose your enviornment that you watch movies like in space, on the beach, or in a medieval citadel… or play with thousands of other people in games like Medieval 2 Total War with everyone playing the same battle!!! and being able to feel yourself being shot, or smell a burning tire, and even feel the power of an exploding grenade. Im defenently going to help the video game industry expand!!!

  6. P.P.G

    I think the future of gaming may depend on how far capitalism reaches into the future, maybe someday the global way turns into something else besides capitalism or socialism where technological advancement is happening but not as fast as it is in our time.

    If that scenario happens some future generations will be playing games that didn’t reach the “holo deck” dream, but still future games for us.

  7. Ari

    Future gaming; get the developers and everyone in the industry to unite under one roof and start thinking of creation and innovation. Lets take its crucial elements of each game for ideas. Imagine Second-Life (virtual life), Crysis (superb graphics/physics), GTA IV(fun factor?), Need for Speed(racing/simulation), Warcraft(online/fantasy/battle), Sims series(management/building/control), DOA(brawl), and etc. Without this analysis, we would see our gaming era will end up with boring sequels,(anyone wants a COD5000, or CRYSIS 341:More Warheads, or even worst, finally final of final fantasy 900). Sad isn’t it? Games are arts and business in the real world, so why not create it in our virtual world as well? Thanks.

  8. Scandicci

    I am a casual PC gamer, going online and playing my game when I have a few hours here or a few hours there. I play a modification of the popular first person shooter Battlefield2 called Project Reality. I find gaming to be more engaging than TV. When I am in the game working with 31 other players in an all out struggle against the 32 players of the opposing side, I am completely removed from my own life. It is like an outlet. As long as our civilization continues to develop our technology will continue to develop as well. Although a Holodeck similar to the one on Star Trek Next Generation may be in the future, I think the future of gaming for those that are alive today will be a more logical progression of the technologies available today. We will see ever larger bandwidth and ever more powerful processors. This will allow game developers to add more and more information to the virtual environment, making it increasingly immersive, even though it will most likely still be on a flat panel. Online gaming is disturbingly addictive. With ever increasing realism I see this as only becoming more of a problem.

  9. Chris

    what makes gaming fun isn’t the game itself. But the challenges it provides, it is the interactivity that sets it apart from movies.

    So the future of gaming? repeatable life. A brain implant, that’ll “emulate” real or unreal feelings (a life emulator).

  10. hmm

    Life is not only about our five senses..

    Our emotions and thoughts… play a much bigger part. If you could hook a game up to your personal emotions, thoughts, feelings… that would be awesome!

    then the game gets personal!

    For example.. when i get in fear.. then the game recognizes this.. and it could manipulate the game.. by changing the music.. the colors.. enemy’s etc.

    Or when im pissed.. other gamecharacters react in fear or also get pissed etc etc etc etc…

    ENDLESS possibillities…

    It are our Feeeeeeeeeelingss.. that create the reality.. our five senses just help us to give these feelings a perspective.

  11. Devlin

    It’s not feelings, but the whole human experience that makes it a reality, the fact that you are aware of what’s around you makes it real to you.

    Gaming today can be a fun casual experience or an escape from reality. The main danger of gaming today is addiction, It leaves users tired,irritable,in some cases completely unaware of the real world (mouth-open,hypnotized look) if it’s really bad,and eventually withdrawal from reality (non-game reality).

    New networking techniques for gaming,(ie ‘cloud’ computing) and the enhanced immersion will introduce new product lines and branches in the gaming industry.

    As for Smell and Taste if they were to be sold, you will likely purchase separate containers/cartridges for, so economically they will not be worth it. Plus the stigma on synthetic chemicals is usually in the right (Don’t believe me? Look it up).

    Besides, who want’s to taste something without eating it (Besides taste testers), who want’s to have synthetic chemicals that came from some cartridge to go up their nose, users could be sucking up some chemical pollutant like chlorine gas for all we know.

    My opinion is that Touch,Sight and Sound will be the most profitable and of course viable path of the gaming industry.


  12. darktyrant

    I believe ‘where’ senses should be applied are not on the player but rather implement it on surrounding.Regardless how well we immerse the reality of gaming, who would want NPC/AI to keep bumping on the same wall or stand still at one place not knowing what to react at. Reality is how ‘things’ or that world reacts to you. Have any of you guys tried running around with a camcoder and try to fell and simulate a first-person view?now thats reality.(Action+effect+results)

  13. shane

    (Would you want to kill something that looked, sounded, and smelled real as in the Flesh Fair scene of A.I.?)


  14. Justin

    yep all sounds great except we are just day dreaming and the only ppl that will be experiencing that are possibly our children but more probably our grandchildren. so they will always be just dreams to us. makes me wish i wasnt born for another couple hundred year and see the technology then. i wonder how close to real, the matrix could be in the future. it would be the ultimate gaming experience for kids. everything is real world feel touch and smell becuase your mind believes its real but its not like in the Matrix movie. hummanity could do so much with that kind of Matrix alternate reality. it could be used as a think tank for the worlds greatest minds. training programs for the military, police and fire dept etc. children can be given an infinite amount of knowledge and education while in the Matrix. and it could be the ultimate way for scientists to expirement without the bother of funding, materials and being in danger. being able to plug your brain into a virtual reality could be the largest achievment of mankind

  15. chris

    You make some very good and informative points within your article.
    When you think of how gaming has changed over the last thirty years then we can all see a brighter future for gaming. The use of the five senses is intriquing and will be awesome if used correctly in each game.

  16. paul

    i think gaming is well, dangerous when people stop eating food because they need to get to the next level, also not sleeping for the same reason. these are the same problems people develop who take recreational drugs.

  17. Martin

    I think that they could make another type of machine. More like a helmet of some kind, you putt it on and goes to sleep and the game becomes your dream. In that way you get well rested and you get to walk around in your dream/game. But how could you get out of the game??

  18. Cat

    What about full-body gaming suits so we feel like we’re in the game?

  19. Emory Rowland

    I like that idea.

    “Hello, boss, sorry I can’t make it into work this morning, the zipper is stuck on my gaming suit”

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  21. Michael

    Just a point:
    The 5 senses idea is amazing
    But keep your data up to date, It’s been a few years since we’ve discarded the number of senses to be 5 in the human body. There’s a lot more than 5: sense of balance (which believe it or not comes from tiny receptors in our ears) sense of pain, etc.
    It be amazing if gaming would evolve to creating a coma like state were we all live in our own little minds.

  22. Michael

    “Yep all sounds great except we are just day dreaming and the only ppl that will be experiencing that are possibly our children but more probably our grandchildren. so they will always be just dreams to us.”

    Don’t be too quick to throw it all away. We’ve already developed quantum computers, which puts a single byte into an atom. So hypothetically speaking we have the technology to build an entire world in the palm of our hands, and this is the technology of TODAY. We’ve found ways to freeze ourselves in time, and some people are doing so right now (walt disney). People don’t realize how quickly and exponentially we’re rising. Also Statistically speaking, many scientists believe the way medicine and technology is rising, in 100 years the average life span will be 200, and in 200 it will be 1000, it’s said that the youthful generation of today will be the first generation to not experience death.
    So don’t think that we won’t get to see the crazy sci-fi videogaming talked about on these forums. Because if you recall, when our grandparents were kids something as simple as a tv didn’t exist when they were young, and now it’s impossible to live with something so complex as a cellphone. And if we’re rising exponentially, imagine what it will be like for us in 50 years.

  23. Anon

    This would be amazing. But I think that a holographic-style system isn’t enough. (plus, it’s 2010, people most people a few decades ago would have thought we’d have that now, but that’s beside the point. :P)

    I think the real future needs some kind of system that directly wires into your brain so that what you experience is a reality. And theoretically, if they did that you could do a heavy workout for hours and not get tired… and that’s just the beginning.

    I think, with current technology, the idea of a virtual reality system is promising. Although Nintendo released the failed Virtual Boy, which probably wouldn’t be the ideal path to go by, a more lightweight and immersive system doesn’t sound too far away.

  24. Cenkan

    my opinion the gaming world is gonna be very dangerous if ppl start doing what they want. i mean what if microsoft starts to create this chip .and in this chip they can do anything to u. controll u! we may only think that its the part of the game. but we wont know what that chip might else do. Peace everyone!

  25. Lo

    This is interesting, Personally I´m tired of this world, It has nothing to offer me, While I dream of other worlds, Where I actually am somebody…

    Maybe this is just me trying to run away from reality, but if so, then that be the case.

  26. Root

    {matrix + 5 senses + gaming suit } =EUREKA ! you guys are brilliant !

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  28. Mandar Powale

    I think the games my evolve according to the way computers evolve, for if technology becomes possible it will take turn towards Johnny Quest type of interfaces and realism.

    Personally i look forward to learning how to fly an actual plane or driving using computer games.

  29. Mandar Powale

    Imagine learning kung-fu matrix style, who needs school anymmore

  30. Help Desk

    Games in the future I think will be much more exciting when we interact personally with the game, like when they developed the Wii remote control. In the future, holograms plus sensors for fingertips and movement will have great effect. Like what they do in movies.

  31. Bob

    Personally, I want a game that completely surrounds you in a different world, somewhere where you can actually run around, and choose your own words instead of boring “AI scripts,” or whatever you would like to call them. This has probably been said before here, but the best gaming ever will become is when the player is fully immersed in the game, able to make decisions, and perform physical actions, not just hit a few buttons. That’s the kind of game I want.
    Personally, I want a game that completely surrounds you in a different world, somewhere where you can actually run around, and choose your own words instead of boring “AI scripts,” or whatever you would like to call them. This has probably been said before here, but the best gaming ever will become is when the player is fully immersed in the game, able to make decisions, and perform physical actions, not just hit a few buttons. That’s the kind of game I want.

  32. MMORPG

    Time will come we play games without using the mouse and become more dangerous.

  33. kostenlose mmorpg

    Good written interesting article :)
    But whats about the social aspect ? i think it were more and more important for games. Social Games like these on facebook & co are increasing in the last time by more than 200%.

    • Emory Rowland

      Thanks. I was thinking more about the types of games that have high sensory engagement. But, games like Farmville do seem to be absorbing a lot of people.

  34. Wale B

    Going to the gym will become outdated. Future games will be energy consuming. Some will probably incorporate various forms of exercise routines.

  35. Doug

    I think that if such a unique gaming experience were to come of age than I think the US Military will be the first ones in line to experience it, train with it and perfect it before the mass population even knows of its existance.

  36. Jimbo

    This digital revolution shouldn’t make society more paranoid about nudity and sex, it should make us see how banal it was to try and censor and control something that is an indivisible part of humanity. I doubt anybody will be able to stop progress at this level. What I want to know is how will companies be relevant when technology reaches a level that you cannot market anything better. Kinda lending a cliche, what do you give the man who has everything. Capitalism will be threatened by this march to automate and miniaturize everything. And in the end we will see how stupid it was to keep things as they were in the 20th century. I just hope this technology helps to free humanity and not stifle it even more.

  37. bobby brown

    i think in the near future every kind out there lost the reality because everybody is online and nearly nobody going in the forest or beach … nature is unkown for the most kinds out there :(

  38. nick

    Yep i mean it will be like the matrix might as well plug us in and use us as batteries but hell it be no different than just sitting here and being human at least with that we could be more free then we could every be in the real world or more enslaved which ever point of view you want.

  39. Zeaman Bryce

    I enjoy sexual activity

  40. I had these ideas in my head but i didnt think they would really be possible. When do you think we will experience 5 senses in a game, im 16 now and i dont want something like this to come out when im 40.

    • Emory Rowland

      I’m not sure but I think we will experience this in our lifetime. I’m looking forward to it.

  41. Another thing i actually think it will be mostly benifitial to society. It will allow people to take their sick ideas (eg kill someone) out on something that isnt real instead of taking it out on real people. Of course their will be people who are influence by things like games but i really hope that that wouldnt spoil it for everyone. The games i would most like to see with this kind of technology (relating to my 4 favourite things. Guns woman cars and football) would be gta f1 fifa and call of duty.

  42. Njoi

    “…and technology and capitalism always ensure that we eventually get what we want.” You forgot to mention “if we don’t kill ourselves in the process”

  43. A Beemer

    Yea, logically the games will become immersive, incorporating all 5 senses. And yes, something like a holodeck would come down the line, but I truly believe and hope for (once they figure out how to interface with a brain) one day that we will see something like the matrix- just simply plug in, and you there…. which, not only will revolutionize video gaming, but you could live most of your entire life in a virtual world needing only to leave for niurishment… entire businesses could be ran in a virtual environment. deadly diseases could be eradicated because you could, instead of buying a prostitute in the real world, simply get the most perfect and beautiful girlfriend to you and feel everything as if you were actually there, even though the girl isn’t real. vacations you’ve always wanted to take, to places that you could never go to, will all be as easy as a simple download. you could live day to day in a world with 1/10 gravity, or you could experience life with the super power of flying, or where a laser could shoot out of your hands… whatever you could possibly want, you could do- and it would all feel as real as lifs does everyday…

    • A Beemer

      And it is 100 percent possible, because our perception of reality is only the interpretation of electical signals.

  44. Emory Rowland

    This is looks like my prediction don’t you think?

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