Game Design From Outer Space

Some forecasts about the new trends in gaming for 2014. Straight from our lookout post. Exciting times are coming!

2014 From the Lookout Post

2014 is going to be a year of transition for games and the gaming industry in general. In the mainstream scene, it’s logical to expect a consolidation of the next-gen consoles and the release of the first relevant titles.

Still, I think we are going to see something interesting have birth and grow, maybe in different areas of the industry. From our lookout post on the game industry, here’s what we think is going to happen.

The Rise of Game-Based Tech Education

Pretty much everyone knows that kids learn fast to use tablet and electronic gadgets. The problem is, the more they use closed systems, the less aware they are about how this stuff works. Blocked into a fruition-only model, they are going to use technology as a magic-like black box, without developing skills that will be essential when they grow up. That’s why I expect projects like Kano, CodeCombat and the super awesome CoderDojo events growing up a great deal. Kids need instruments to learn how technology works, and such projects are perfect to let them get the science in a funny and inexpensive way.

A New Generation of Serious Games

Serious games (or games with a purpose, call them how you like best) have seen a dramatic change during 2013, mainly with the release of products like Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please. Before that, games with a purpose have been borderline products, often with very low production budgets and sometime just patronising rather than entertaining. I guess that in 2014 we are going to see more complex games dealing with complex sociopolitical issues, and, in general, more interesting games with a purpose.

Wearable and Folk Games Reloaded

Everyone has told you this: 2014 is the year of wearable computing. So, no great surprises here. But 2014 will also see the release of Sportsfriends by Die Gute Fabrik. Among the games in the upcoming PS3/PS4/PC/Mac compilation there is the final release of Doug Wilson’s Johann Sebastian Joust, a folk game based on move-sensing controllers which you may or may not have played during events around the world. The idea of using sensing technology to enhance folk games, street games or even party games (just think about the possibilities of BLE to locate people inside a house!) will be expanded during 2014, though still at an experimental level.

Steam Machines and PCs Form Factor

Steam machines may look to you an expensive mess right now. But I’m convinced Valve have the power to make them a success. It will take time, sure. But 2014 could be remembered as the year where computer games started to change through miniaturisation. The first step is obviously getting rid of the nasty tower architecture, which takes a lot of spaces and no one would like to put in their living room. We are going to see more and more mini-PCs, this time without the hardware limitations we know. Apple is doing that with the Mac Pro line (like it or not, is way better than your standard tower, deal with it) and experiments like the Raspberry Pi or the Intel Edison or even the Android consoles show that these are the first steps toward a world where you put a credit-card sized machine in you pocket, go to a friend’s, pop it into a 4k TV and play with games in your library. Not in 2014, for sure. But now it’s starting.

So, I guess that’s it. Let’s see how 2014 plays out. I’m personally super excited.