This chapter will talk about specific factors affecting the future of interactive media; including video games, augmented reality, user-interface’s and the world wide web. Society has advanced great lengths is the last few hundred years, leading to advancements in technologies beyond people’s wildest dreams. The question is now, how will technology evolve from here?
The video game industry is one of the youngest, but also one of the largest today. What was once considered a niche audience now spans most people who have access to a smartphone or computer. Today, most everyone can say that they have played at least one game and have spent a good few hours playing it. The games industry has climbed into success so quickly that it now rivals the movie industry, which has been around much longer. With an industry expanding this fast, there are some interesting things happening today that could very well affect the future of video games.
One of the major changes to the industry in the past few years is the rise of free to play and independently developed games. The mobile market contains mostly free games that rely on microtransactions to support themselves. A microtransaction is a small payment to receive some sort of virtual item to be used in the game. This is becoming an ever-popular business model for smaller development studios and has even been adopted by the larger companies as an easy way to make more off of their game. This could affect the future of the industry because games are being seen more and more as a service. “Much like similar movie streaming services, the ability to stream video games is becoming more and more a reality…” (MentalFloss.com) It is not out of the realm of possibility that games in the future will be completely free and consumers must purchase pieces of the game that they want to play.
Not only are there more indie studios popping up but there has been a large rise in content that is open source and easy to modify. Open source means that the developer has made its game making tools open to the public to change and modify their games with. This makes it much easier for people to understand how games work, and with more people who understand how to make games, the more potential there is for games being made in the future. “The console itself is the development kit, so anyone can build a game if they wish to do so. Making game development easier and cheaper creates more creative gamemakers, giving rise to more variety of free-to-play games for everyone.” (HongKiat.com) This change, along with software that is specially designed for the use of making games has made this industry much more interactive than others. And the technological advancements are only speeding up the pace of this growing media.
For there to games, there must be devices to play them on. And nowadays games are becoming more and more intensive, to the point where some games are released on consoles that cannot handle the graphical load, and fail to run. This is becoming less and less of a problem though, because of how fast new developments are being churned out by computer companies. Most see it as a two-sided split between personal computers and home consoles. On personal computers, there are advancements being made almost every quarter. So that graphics card that you just spent $1,500 on may be considered weak in the near future. But consoles on the other hand are cheaper altogether, but have a much larger gap between generations your shiny new Xbox may last you four years or more. But in both cases, the time between new hardware being produced has only become smaller. “… with an updated PlayStation 4, codenamed Neo , on its way, this marks the end of long console cycles.” (TheGuardian) So it is interesting to speculate which model of upgrading will come out on top in the future.
The last major change in the gaming industry is actually less about the games themselves and more about the people playing them. The communities that have risen out of interest in a game have shown a lot of power over how games get made. Dude to social media sites and streaming services, people’s opinions of games can be broadcast to a large audience and can sway the public opinion of a certain game or developer. So this way the players often have a lot of say in how a game ends up.
This industry is growing extremely fast, innovation almost constantly and attracting more people with each hit game that gets released. This medium is one of the most watched and monitored today because of its popularity and continual change. If the past has showed anything about this industry, it is that it is very fluid and will alter greatly in the future.
“Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment” (Augmented Reality). Sensory input elements; such as sound, video, or graphics are “augmented” by a device (Augmented Reality). Augmented reality enhances reality, where virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. A more general concept related to augmented reality is called computer-mediated reality, in which “a view of reality is modified by a moveable computer or handheld device” (AR What is it?). Originally augmented reality was only used in entertainment and game businesses, but other businesses have recently become interested with other AR possibilities like knowledge sharing, new technologies, educational implications, and GPS tracking (AR: What is it?).
The technologies and implications of augmented reality have evolved drastically over the last few years, gearing recently towards advancements in HUD interfaces. A head-up display or a HUD, is a display that presents data without requiring looking away from someone’s point of view. Heads-up displays were first developed for pilots in the 1970s, simple flight data was projected into their line of sight (Spitzer). This enabled pilots to keep their “heads up” and not look down at the instruments (Spitzer). Recently advances are being made in car development to integrate HUD’s into the experience; by integrating things like speed, directions, text messages, and simulated images of the road ahead. Many companies are trying to make fast advances in creating the best HUD interface for the car; just to name a few Hudway Glass, Exploride, and Garmin HUD+ Navigation System (Crooked). All of these current devices are separate from the car, made for the smartphone to project onto a small screen in front of your face. Hudway Glass is the most cost efficient smart device that turns your smartphone into a Head-Up Display for your car (Crooked). It displays all the necessary information you need while you stay focused on the road ahead. These HUD’s are simple, by just placing your smartphone on the cradle, the phone displays the necessary data on the HUD mini screen (Crooked). The goal for the future is to integrate the interface into the windshield itself, creating minimal darting of the eyes from the small screen to the road. Currently the best apps to use on the HUD’s are the navigation apps on your smartphone, getting directions for your trip has never been easier to hear and see (Crooked).
Mobile augmented reality applications are gaining popularity as the popularity of mobile devices rises. New technologies being introduced into phones including speech recognition with system’s that translate a user’s spoken words into computer instructions (Antoniol). New cameras are being integrated into devices that interpret a user’s body’s movements by visual detections (Antoniol). All of these tools can be used to complement a standard curriculum in school. Textbooks, flashcards and other educational material can contain markers, that when scanned by a phone can produce information and videos (Antoniol). Advancements are being made with our phone using our camera and location to implement us into classrooms, board meetings, even video games. The best recent example of augmented reality being implemented into a mass audience is Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go has sent people into streets, parks, beaches, out to sea, in a kayak on lakes, and climbing mountains. The game makes the owner of the phone the actual player of the game, trying to travel the world to capture all the characters from video game Pokémon. The app is a combination of ordinary technologies built into every smartphone,” this [includes] location tracking and cameras, to encourage people to visit public landmarks, seeking virtual loot and collectible characters that they try to nab” (Wingfield). In Pokémon Go, “players traverse the physical world following a digital map”, as people walk around they run into characters they would encounter playing the original Pokémon games. The part of the augmented reality that attracts players is when they look through their smartphones they see the Pokémon. “Like most successful mobile games, while Pokémon Go is free to play, it gives players opportunities to buy virtual items…to speed up their progress” (Wingfield). Also, because Pokeemon Go uses real locations in their game the company, “Niantic can make money by charging fast-food restaurants, coffee shops and other retail establishments” for publicity, creating a market for augmented reality in the future (Wingfield). The goal of other companies is figuring out how to implement augmented reality in other ways to make money in the world. Money, knowledge, and new ideas are the largest factors driving the future forward.
User interfaces have shown significant impacts on our technology today, and how it is going to change. A user interface is a junction between the medium and the people that use it. In the realm of everyday, a user interface is anything that is created to allow us to interact with it, like door knobs (Pavlik and McIntosh). So, in the case of interactive media, that could be anything from how we use our phones and what allows our phones to work, or how we type on a computer or what allows us to click on the Safari icon on our Macs. User Interfaces also led to the development of the internet and the burgeoning of the video game industry.
User Interfaces allowed for interactivity which according to Sheizaf Rafaeli, “is the condition of communication in which simultaneously and continuous exchange occurs”. But it also has three different components. Interactivity is a dialog that occurs between a human and a computer program, which is anything from email to online chats. Interactivity is the dialog that affects the nature or type of feedback or content received, changing as the dialog continues. And interactivity is audience based, the audience has some amount of control over the content and when it is seen, this is the ability to click on hyperlinks, or magnify an image (Pavlik and McIntosh).
One of the biggest technological advancements, is the computer, but like mentioned so many times before, they wouldn’t exist if not for user interfaces. There are three development to mention which helped to make desktop computers capable for multimedia. The development of greater computing power and increased multimedia, the addition of audio and video, and the creation of the graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI is a computer interface that shows graphical representations of file structures, files, and applications in the form of folders, icons, and windows.
A major factor that is going to affect the future, was the creation of touch screens. It’s hard to say when the first touch screen was created, even though some will say the tech was available in the 1940’s, but wasn’t feasible till 1965 (Ion). The first computer system to have a touch-sensitive screen was PLATO, which stands for Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations. PLATO was introduced in 1974 by Control Data Corporation, or CDC (Pavlik and McIntosh). One of the most common uses of touch screen and has been one of the most widely used forms was the ATM, now possibly trumped by Apple’s iPhone. The reason this is one of the most influencing factor, is because with the development there is the chance that you will see a lot of user interfaces becoming obsolete. Such as the mouse or a keyboard, and items along those lines.
Without user interfaces, there would be no laptop, there would be no changing the channel on the TV, there would be no killstreaks in Call of Duty, there would be no way to interact with the things that we love to do with the interactive media at our fingertips today. Without User Interfaces, everything talked about in the section following this one, would never exist. User Interfaces have been crucial in the development of many types of technology, past just video games and the internet. User interfaces have been revolutionary in the eyes of modern day technology and media. They have been crucial for augmented reality, touch screens, voice recognitions such as Siri, even the computer mouse.
The Internet/World Wide Web
In today’s world media has started to consume people and their everyday lives. All forms of media are evolving and developing in new ways from their original starting point. This includes the internet; a global computer network that provides a variety of information and communication, through interconnected networks using standardized communication protocol. The internet is a unique tool that can be used by all for various of different reasons.
The internet is moving at a fast and overwhelming pace that has many affects to people of all ages. “As a global electronic-publishing medium accessed through the Internet, the World Wide Web fostered the most fundamental shift in human communication since the printing press five centuries earlier.” (Pavlik 49) These factors have many affects and are quickly shaping what our future is going to be like with the use of internet. Dependency is a big factor that has been noticed among internet users. Internet has been used as a tool to define themselves, through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Tumblr. Facebook, being one of the biggest social media sites is a way for people to express themselves. People are able to do this by putting pictures up of themselves, or what they have been doing recently. They can even share funny video clips, movie trailers they really enjoyed, political content, and much more. Posting on these social media sites is also a way for people to keep up with their social interactions. People who put value on these social media websites, have a dependency on the internet. In one article a survey was conducted with a woman, Kathy, saying, “internet has filled a void we did not know we had” (McMillan & Morrison 87) Other people see internet as a way to interact with their community and if they did not have access to it, they would be an outsider. Internet becomes the connection between the people who make up a society. This dependency of the internet is going to increase as people keep adding value to social media platforms or ways of interacting with peers and members of their society. The more value attached to the internet means the more time people will spend using it. This continues to increase the dependency as internet becomes part of someone’s everyday life and as the internet grows and more developments are made this dependency will only keep increasing.
Most children who have grown up with the internet and other various forms of technology are the ones who are most susceptible to its side effects. Constantly having access to the internet does create a dependency, as we discussed before, but it also reduces one’s connectedness to their surroundings. Only using the internet to communicate does not give adolescents the experiences of talking to people face-to-face or one-on-one. They are able to use a device, computer, cell-phone, as a barrier and they become more reliant on that to communicate rather than in person. Internet causing this decrease in connectedness leads to the future reduction of children’s well-being. With the norm now being that children always have access to the internet, their future of well-being and connectedness continues to further diminish.
Children as students being so involved with the internet and always having access, in a classroom setting it becomes a teacher’s responsibility to express that internet is not the modern form. As of now and for future generations, students must be taught they there are many other traditional forms of accessing information, not just the internet. As easy and fast as the internet is, it is modern, which is not the same as traditional. With the internet so being so prevalent it is also important that students are learning about the consequences. For example, online harassment or cyberbullying from peers and the dangers of getting involved with these actions. Classes need to be taught because although the internet is a great tool for information, it can be very dangerous.
Globally, the internet also presents factors that will affect the future of developing countries. The disparity between developing and developed countries under the topic of internet is great. Slowly with changes and developments being made the internet will start to diffuse in developing countries. Only leaving developed countries with the access to internet adding to the social and economic inequalities. The future for developing countries without internet is not bright and with developed countries obtaining a secure hold on their access to internet it worsens the problem. This means developing countries will face a tremendous setback, worsening their situation as a country. Internet has the capabilities to evolve and help a country grow, but it also has the ability to weaken and dissolve another country.
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