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Video Gaming Will Take Over (matthewball.vc)
198 points by thesauri on Jan 14, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 304 comments

>Cloud gaming means you will be able to take your game “everywhere” and avoid dreaded 20-minute updates before you can start playing.

Doubt. In the same way that movies on PSP had this idea in mind but fell flat on it's face, games are strongly tied to the format and environment in which you consume them.

FPS gaming with a keyboard and mouse isn't coming with you on your phone for the morning commute, and no amount of technology is going to change that because the main barrier is you won't want to play that game on your morning commute with a bunch of people around you, noise, and being unable to immerse yourself (even for reasons as simple as needing to remember to get off at your stop).

That said, perhaps the converse doesn't hold true, and when you flop down in front of your screen in the evening you can get into a 6h marathon of bejeweled just the same as you were playing on the train into work that morning. Streaming isn't an enabler for this though, just cross-platform builds of your chosen game and cross-format suitability for input/output methods.

>Microsoft claims Game Pass subscribers increase their overall playtime by 40%

I'd really like to see retention stats alongside this to drawn an inference, because (anecdotally), I subscribed, played the shit out of the one game I subscribed for, then cancelled my sub before the next month. I definitely look like a player with increased playtime, because I deliberately did that to play a game that would have cost $$ for just $.

> FPS gaming with a keyboard and mouse isn't coming with you on your phone for the morning commute, and no amount of technology is going to change that because the main barrier is you won't want to play that game on your morning commute with a bunch of people around you, noise, and being unable to immerse yourself (even for reasons as simple as needing to remember to get off at your stop).

PUBG and Fortnite are both wildly popular mobile games. I see people playing them on the bus all the time.

I was going to say the same thing except with Call of Duty as my example.

Having never played an FPS on my phone, I had to download Call of Duty to see how it worked, being a heavy kb+m FPS player in my youth.

Played a dozen or so rounds in a couple weeks. It worked surprisingly well with plenty of skill gap between the players.

A couple years ago I also tried a MOBA on my phone wondering how that could possibly work on such a small tap-input device

Turns out mobile screen + tap input game UX is well-explored and polished territory.

Now all I want to see is Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis on a phone and I'll agree that nothing is impossible.

Civilization 6 is available in the App Store for iPhone and iPad. However, on my 2017 10.5” iPad Pro I find it uncomfortable to play beyond a short stretch (15-20 minutes) because the UI obscures a good part of the map (even fully collapsed) and panning the board is not smooth because of the frame rate. My hand, wrist, and arm tire quickly from all the swiping and panning too.

I tried unciv[1], which is an open source 2D clone of civilization V. What I thought was going to be a 10 minutes playtest ended up taking most of my afternoon, it was surprisingly compelling.

[1] https://github.com/yairm210/UnCiv

If Witcher 3 is possible on mobile (see Nintendo Switch), then everything else is also. :)

Most phones lack Switch controls. The silicon or the screen was not in doubt but the input method (touchscreen).

That is true. I believe (and hope) someday we will have phone cases that also act like controllers.

there is. check out razer's website. Im not sure how the product is called

There's a Razer Junglecat, but it is super limited in phone support (just like 5 popular ones). At CES, they did announce a new Razer Kishi, a wired controller that snaps on a bit like a car phone stand does.

Huh, that sounds fairly simple to do. I wonder why there are none.

Where is a kickstarter when you need one? :)

Hardware Kickstarters, what could possible go wrong?

Paradox announced EU4 was coming to iOS and Android in 2013 but it seems nothing ever came of it:


Somewhat bizarrely, a Nintendo DS port of EU2 was also in development at some point!:


There were ports of all sorts of unexpected games to the DS like Zoo Tycoon and SimCity 3000

Something CK2-like ("sim RPG"?) had already been my hypothetical mobile game concept long before I even discovered (and immediately fell for) CK2: Macromanaging a player character that is basically just another NPC existing in a few layers of abstracted off-screen simulation, a slightly interactive story generator. Highly hypothetical of course, no way I'd ever make it a reality.

For example a pirate game would have a detailed social sim of the crew, an "FTL level" sim of the ship in combat, a "Sid M. Pirates" level sim of ship to ship combat (that is all NPC off-screen when the player character isn't in command of a ship) and a sim of baroque-era Caribbean economy. A low level sailor would just manage relationships and balance focus between categories like following orders, initiative, camaraderie, bravado and risk avoidance (each influencing how he fares in the off-screen social and "FTL combat" simulations), peppered with the occasional decision set-piece, whereas a pirate-king might decide on resource allocation and strategic city upgrades (but still not micro-manage anything but relations). The tactical level would be a much more interactive (if the PC happens to be in command) series of decisions, but still do exclusively fast-forward-to-pause timing. ("free form turns", imho mobile games should be as passive as a book whenever you put down the phone)

The pattern could be applied to anything that has a somewhat limited set of characters for the social layer (the CK2 courtier population might still be a bit heavy for mobile...) and involves separable tactical and strategic layers. The original idea came from the question of how one could do a WW2 air combat sim on mobile that is deeper than Sid M. Ace Patrol but unlike IL-2 still without a dexterity factor. The player would balance focus between e.g. spotting, engine operation and navigation when on mission but not in combat and during engagement between aiming, evading, energy conservation, situational awareness and so on (plus a series of decision points that might be seconds or minutes apart depending on situation). The social layer might involve storytelling decisions like choosing to "accidentally" miss an emergency scramble after a night of heavy stress relief or flying under the influence.

With a bottomless fantasy budget, this kind of game would come with full 3D modeling for illustrating every sim layer, but only ever show a single frame at each interaction, representing the state of the simulation (which is actually closer to board-game abstraction than to 3D physics) in a semi-randomized way. Reasoning: animations quickly get old no matter how good they are and single frames can be doused in nice-looking postprocessing that would cause unsightly artifacts if animated. An endless pool of informative flavor illustrations, not the usual showing-off of GPU power and production effort.

> Something CK2-like ("sim RPG"?) had already been my hypothetical mobile game concept long before I even discovered (and immediately fell for) CK2: Macromanaging a player character that is basically just another NPC existing in a few layers of abstracted off-screen simulation, a slightly interactive story generator. Highly hypothetical of course, no way I'd ever make it a reality.

You might be interested in Stellar Monarch (https://store.steampowered.com/app/446000/Stellar_Monarch/). I haven't played it (no linux version) so can't recommend it but it seems much more focused on role playing as emperor sitting in your throne room. I think a successful mobile CK2 would look more like this and less like the desktop map staring one.

This reminds me of an idea, has there ever been any multi-tiered games such that,

1. Each tier is its own game, 2. The games are not independent

As a simple, two-game, example. Imagine a strategy game such as Shogun (turn-based strategy). When the players kn that game start conflicts that opens up a match for FPS-type players to join. The outcome of the battle will depend on the FPS-player performance while the match-up is skewed depending on the relative forces deployed by the generals.

Maybe cities are maintained by more Minecraft-esque players, while the eye in the sky can submit tasks down below for resources, certain buildings, etcetera.

I doubt that "each tier is it's own game" could ever really work: what about the different time scales? It's bad enough already in the Total War series where the strategy and battle compete more than complement.

What would be in it for the player extras on the tactical level? It's hard enough for level design and matchmaking to compose a match of random internet players when there are no further constraints, forcing the parameters of one players strategy session on top of that problem can only make it worse.

"RPG sim" would aim for the opposite, creating a uniform UX with consistent interaction pacing (even if on wildly different timescales) for all the off-screen sim layers.

There was a multiplayer RTS called arkaron or something that featured time travelling. The gameplay was built around building up your forces to fight at a particular point in time. As you built up you sent units back in time to battle opposing forces in waves with a limited amount of energy. The game ran on a constantly ticking timeline that implemented changes in the timeline (spawned units) at the end of each timeline section. The original idea was to be more expansive with the implementation but it had to be cut down.

Well, there are games like Nuclear Dawn or Natural Selection 2 which feature both an FPS and an RTS in the same game, with one player acting as the commander plopping down research/buff/harvest buildings and issuing orders, and everyone else playing the (often disobedient) units.

There was Dust 514, which was directly connected to EVE Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_514

Yes! Rowans Battle of Britain had both a flight simulator, and a high level strategic overview. It was possible to play the game entirely strategically, changing the outcome of the Battle of Britain through effective resource management (like making Germany win by focusing on airfields instead of city bombing), but for every combat encounter you could also jump into a cockpit and get your hands dirty. Truly a tour de force of atmospheric gaming.

Mount and Blade series. (I've played 'Fire and Sword' but you can try the others as well).

Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf was a turn-based game that was tactical and strategic.

Squadron 42 + Star Citizen

> PUBG and Fortnite are both wildly popular mobile games. I see people playing them on the bus all the time.

Incidentally, neither of these are an FPS. Both using (or favouring, in the case of PUBG) third person, over-the-shoulder play.

However video game “genres” are kind of a mess. FPS is too broad of a label to be useful. Both CoD and Portal are “FPS” but feature wildly different pace, tone, and requirements on the player. Another example: there’s a type of “FPS” that is almost extinct because it’s only really playable on PC: the arena shooter or twitch shooter (e.g. Unreal Tournament, Quake 3). These are simply not playable on console/mobile because the speed and precision of inputs required to play them is beyond the inputs available.

All of this is to say that the type of “FPS” you might get on mobile won’t represent the full range of FPS experiences you can get on PC or console.

There is FPS in PUBG. It can be toggled between first and third party on demand. The public has welcomed it in a massive way. This sort of accessible gaming which adapts big titles to smaller form factors will win!

I don't know. I think people associate FPS with the shooty part and the kill,kill,kill mentality, which, while you do this in Portal, it's not the same. It's more of a puzzler/platformer.

This is true, but serious players and streamers play keyboard+mouse/controller. I don’t know of any famous streamers seriously playing on mobile.

The options to play may be increasing, but there’s no way mobile will kill the keyboard players.

> I don’t know of any famous streamers seriously playing on mobile.

The second largest streamer in Germany (I think top 20 world wide or something) regularly streams the mobile game "Clash of Clans". I've seen streams with 20k viewers and more streaming things like "Black Desert Mobile" and "Call of Duty Mobile", too.

I meant for fortnite specifically. I can totally see streamers playing mobile-first games, but streamers of the battle royale genre seem to favor PC/console.

PUBG mobile is (or was? haven't played in a while) a work of art - especially compared to it's PC older brother. Runs at a solid FPS, amazing gunplay for a mobile game while still capturing the essence of the PC game. Slightly embarrassing for PUBG PC to be frank.

But... both technically and culturally it's not the same as a PC shooter. Similar to comparing HALO with a game like Counter Strike I guess - one summer I was bored and shot 2500-3000ish heads (Aim Botz) in one sitting but I can't imagine "practicing" PUBG mobile in a similar way.

How is this not the same? I'm not seeing why you can't compare Halo with Counter-Strike. In Fortnite there actually are even mobile (iPad) players that put thousands of hours into the game and are better than 99% of PC players.

PC players that put thousands of hours in to a game are better than 99.9% of PC players.

Having been a pro counter strike player back then, I can tell you that the difference in skill between pros playing with keyboard/mouse and other controllers is incomparable.

And I've seen a fair number of peeps playing minecraft on ipad too, so you have a point.

They are separate, partitioned instances of the games though, tailored for the format.

They are not. Fortnite and Minecraft have cross-play with consoles and PC.

They do have cross-play, but as far as I know it's opt-in when playing with friends. Matchmaking will usually group you with others playing in a similar way.

Fortnite is now "Skilled-based match making, with forced cross-play". Doesn't matter what platform you are on, you are matched by your relative skill level. High-level 6-finger-claw iPad players (and some of them are really incredible!) will be in lobbies with medium-level console and PC players.

I'm curious: is the "skill" per device? Or does being decent on the PC spell death for any chances when I switch to my phone?

> Fortnite and Minecraft have cross-play with consoles and PC.

Who plays the Bedrock Edition on PC, though?

I think this is at least partly a generational thing. Kids and teenagers seem to be much more willing than my peers to play demanding games on mobile, and to play them in public.

It sort of makes sense, since anyone my age or older didn't _really_ have access to serious mobile games growing up.

I grew up while android/ipads were starting to take off and spent a lot of my childhood playing fruit ninja and minecraft pocket edition. Now I'm >20 and I don't have a single game on my phone. I'm not sure what changed but I just don't have any desire to play light/casual games anymore. On the bus I am happy to just sit there with noise canceling headphones and think. Then when I get home I'll spend an hour on a VR game.

Hey! My gameboy was a screen with 2 bits of color depth! What's not serious about that? :D

Good point actually, but that almost (?) two decades wide gap between mainstream gameboy mobile playing and the iPhone was quite an opportunity to drop the habit. Well, there was Nokia snake.

I was in Singapore recently and regularly saw adults smashing away at games while on the train.

It's a separate adaptation of the game engine, but your account, purchased items, friends list, etc all carries across, so the only thing that doesn't transfer is an ongoing game.

As an aside, I played pubg from early days, and as buggy as the PC version was, I was shocked when out of curiosity I tried pubg on a pixel 2 and it actually ran smoothly.

I thought much the same but recent experiences with my cousin's children give me doubt. They're both in the early teens now and they consume games like Minecraft on their iPad as if they were playing on a standard PC.

I know the games have been tweaked for the format but not by much, at least in the instance of Minecraft.

The virtual controls infuriate me but they're tapping and swiping away building some complex creations. They do this in the middle of a family social, necks bent, staring down at the screen. The only time they look away is when the iPad runs out of juice.

Maybe it's because they haven't tried any better and so don't know how the constrained controls are limiting their gameplay?

I see a lot of this in other fields. People will use a sub-standard workflow and think it's fine until they experience something better and at that point they realise how bad their previous workflow was.

My son switches back and forth between Minecraft on his ipad and laptop regularly and with ease.

That's probably true, but I think most people don't have desktop computers anymore. Most people buy laptops instead, and they don't use a mouse. Hence, most kids growing up won't really interact with desktop computers and mice anymore, and won't really get to see how different the experience could be. Not unless they happen to be at a friend's house, and that friend has a desktop computer with a mouse.

Students in my class often don't have a laptop at home either, phones, consoles, tablets, but nothing to do any work on. All the open source software they're learning to use and nowhere to run it at home

Even a console-style controller would be a huge upgrade from a touchscreen and those are still very common.

You're making a lot of assumptions about touch controls. They work much better than you think for people who has grown up with mobile only.

I honestly can't see it. Sure the kids may be fast at swiping, but ... it takes milliseconds for a professional with a mouse to already have aimed and shot against the head of an enemy player.

There is a reason why pros who play with controllers never play against pros on PC in shooters. And I can easily imagine the controller pros will be much faster than swipers.

So, for just building with blocks, I can see why parents just give the kids an ipad so they don't have all the running and screaming, but it probably won't be a competitive way of playing games. I only say probably because I just can't imagine me watching someone swiping on a screen.

I'm not saying that it will be on par with PC or even console but check out this clip where you will see the touch in action to the left: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf9r5S-tnu4

The main thing with a touchscreen is that it's probably not as long term solution for input for these fast paced games. The way you grip your phone is probably going to hurt your wrists more in the long run.

Reminds me of an op-ed from 1900 about how books were destroying the youth, for they never looked up at the world around them. :)

I think that the major difference is a lot of games/apps are tailor made to produce dopamine/cause addiction. While a good book _can_ be addicting, it's not inherently stimulating.

Why would a book not be made to produce dopamine? They're written by people trying to make the most engaging and profitable story possible

A good book might hook someone into reading it all in a binge, but once it's done it's pretty much done.

A game on the other hand can create a sort of rewards treadmill where no one ever really 'finishes'. A book can't adjust rewards in real time to fuel addictive behavior.

Books don't really exploit gambling mechanics, which is what can drive some of the most pernicious addictions.

Yep, people sink literally thousands of hours in to a single game. Some popular games literally punish you for the time you spend not playing the game or give you daily rewards so that you log in frequently.

The op was specifically talking about minecraft - it has none of those dark patterns, it's just a good game.

It's literally virtual building blocks (+ hack and slash combat and crafting and exploration etc). Would you have the same level of derision for kids who sink thousands of hours into playing with lego? Kids have a lot of spare time to kill.

Finding diamonds in minecraft isn't gambling mechanics?

Dig down to just above bedrock, and dig a long, level, 2x1 strip. You'll find diamonds within a few minutes. Each block destroyed this way exposes three potential diamond blocks. Finding diamonds is far more of a knowledge problem than a gambling one. Inefficient mining can make an 8 minute hunt for a diamond vein take over an hour. Also diamonds are a pretty hardy good, once you have a sword, pick, and armor, there isn't a huge reason to seek more until you consume those goods.

I've certainly become "addicted" to good books in the same way I've been "addicted" to good video games - reading for 8hrs straight every day until I'm done and so on.

From the way some people talk about video games on here sometimes I assume they think the android/ios market is representative of all of gaming (even then there's plenty of good "buy once" mobile games without microtransactions, the discoverability on the stores is just godawful - presumably to steer people towards more profitable crap rather than what's actually good).

Genre literature, sure. But there's a whole world of books that's not genre. As engaging and profitable as possible is not a goal shared by all authors.

I'm not really sure what you're trying to say here. Non genre literature is not engaging or enjoyable? "Genre literature" is a stupid term too, it's a no true scotsman thing where anything not deemed "serious" enough gets dumped in that category.

I think you're reading into something that isn't there. Umbrella terms can be used without disdain. It wasn't a highbrow comment, and I'm not about to go into a discussion on the merits of genre vs. literary or even the use of the terms, but it's clear that Zapffe's On the Tragic does not target the mass market, while the latest Tom Clancy does. Both can be engaging, depending on the reader, but the latter was written to "be as engaging and profitable as possible," the former was not.

The medium of video games isn't "inherently stimulating" either. Games need to be specifically tailored to that kind of thing, and many aren't (look outside of the mobile space for examples - 99% of what you see on the steam front page is not a skinner box)

Also, you always eventually reach the end of a book. In which case you have to take a break to find a new one, which you may or may not like as much.

This applies to basically every form of media prior to the internet—movies, TV shows, music albums, etc.

I personally prefer games that are one-and-done too, and this is partly why. I want to immerse myself in a virtual world for a little while and then move on with my life and/or find a brand new virtual world; I'm not looking for an endless rabbit hole.

At the time the medium didn't allow for unlockable episodes/chapters ;)

Serialized novels did.

And nowadays we have web novels with chapters every day/every few days.

And forums where readers still communicate with authors shaping the new chapters.

> This essay will focus on two particularly striking mid-nineteenth-century examples of the complex relationships that unite the writer, readers, and editor of a serial. The first one is a French novel. Les Mystères de Paris, by Eugène Sue, which was serialized over a year and a half in 1842-43 in the Paris daily Le Journal des Débats Politiques et Littéraires, which translates literally as the Journal of Political and Literary Debates; the second is Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which first appeared in the antisîavery weekly, the National Era, between 1851 and 1852.

> My first point is that in the case of both works, apart from the fact that they aimed at social reform and were tremendously popular and violently criticized, their respective readers played a role in giving final form to each novel, particularly in terms of length. I will then examine the locus of the discussion that is being carried on between the readers and the writer. In Stowe's case, since she was writing far from Washington, where the National Era was based, the conversation between the reader and the writer was carried on in the columns of the Era itself. In Sue's case, the correspondence between reader and writer was mostly conducted via private letters, for reasons I will go into later. Sue kept more than three hvmdred of the letters he received while writing Les Mystères; those letters have now been edited and published. As can be imagined, they provide a rare and invaluable insight into the interaction between reader and writer during the publication of a serial.


Makes me wonder what kind of spine and RSI issues that generation will have in 20 years

How's it different from a generation that grew up with books?

I recommend you take a look at the way kids hold their phones when doing "serious" fast-paced gaming. The 4 finger claw grip[0] is not very comfortable in the long term. I'm guessing it'll be fine for teenagers, but beyond that I could see it causing issues.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKrU4yYTGXI&t=4m51s

Books are way less addictive across the board in my experience. You might find a handful of people consuming them to the point of harm, but when you add together all of the addictive activities on a phone/tablet there's no question IMO

Books you aren't repeatedly stabbing with a finger.

Depends on how much you argue with the authors.

This article discusses many of the pain points Google Stadia was supposed to solve, but didn't mention that Stadia has had significant issues since (e.g. input latency, bandwidth consumption) that the positives do not offset.

Those are technical problems that will get solved. Heck, I helped solve some of them 5 years ago with Microsoft in a limited pilot but the solution wasn't cost-effective back then. They didn't want to be first to market with a half-baked product for fear it would damage the Xbox brand. Google is starting a new brand for Stadia, so it makes sense they'd be willing to take more risk.

>Those are technical problems that will get solved.

How do you fix the distance between me and Google?

By dropping the render farms at the other end of your broadband connection. It worked, it just wasn't economically feasible then. :)

More PoPs and fiber. Both which are already much more ubiquitous than a few years ago and fast expanding. Plus you don't need to reach everyone for a successful product. Just a critical mass

I (and many, many others) notice lag in games with v-sync turned on vs off, and we're talking about single digit milliseconds there.

It's possible that Stadia might be "good enough" for casual gaming (and granted, that's a very large market segment), but I don't think it will ever be good enough for anyone who is sensitive to latency.

>I (and many, many others) notice lag in games with v-sync turned on vs off, and we're talking about single digit milliseconds there.

Indeed, I found this recently out in a double-blind kind of way, when running at 165hz. I had to take out my GPU to fix the fan, so I wanted to try playing some demanding games on my integrated Intel GPU. I switched settings to the lowest (along with the game itself auto downgrading settings). After I put my GPU back, I put all the settings back, or so I thought. I was feeling some input lag and the mouse a little "floaty" but thought I just imagining it for a day or two. Afterwards I checked settings and lo behold, VSync was on.

I was surprised that I could tell the difference when running at 165hz and 165 fps.

I feel like there must be something way wrong with the way vsync is implemented in most games. It often feels like it adds massive latency (like an entire extra buffered frame, like bad implementations of triple buffering), but if my FPS is close to what it would be with vsync, then I don't see why it should add much latency.

That is to say, on my 60Hz monitor, I don't feel much difference between 60 FPS and anything above with vsync off. But if I go from from 70FPS (vsync off) to 60 FPS (vsync on), it's yarrgh unplayable, as far as first person shooters go.

With vsync, a late frame delays input by a whole refresh cycle. When your hardware is only capable of average frame rate similar to your refresh rate, there will be plenty of those.

Variable refresh rate is one way to fix this.

I mean frame rate similar to but strictly above refresh rate, with no late frames. There's still very obvious nasty latency.

What is your screen refresh rate? With Vsync on, you are capped to the screen refresh values. If you have a 144Hz screen and you're running 165FPS with VSync off, you will run 144FPS with VSync on. But if your GPU struggles to hit 144FPS, with Vsync on it will drop instantly to 72 FPS, then to 36 FPS (assuming no GSync/FreeSync).

This is something which irks me.

All major engines (Unity, Unreal and even Godot) provide 2 different mechanisms for callbacks in your scripts: A callback before each rendered frame and a callback before each physic step (Update() and FixedUpdate() in Unity).

Now, physics always run in a fixed time step. Usually 60 times per second. If you move your player, the game will always need to wait for the next physic callback to move the entity around. Same for spawning projectiles and or checking hitscan weapons with raycasts. You always need to wait.

In this case, when V-Sync is on an your screen updates at 60Hz per second everything is fine. But on a screen with 144Hz, there is inevitable input lag.

Can someone tell me, how on earth can this be improved by disabling V-Sync? It's basically not possible to reduce input lag in this scenario.

I know there are ways to hide the lag through Input Prediction and Entity Interpolation, but those are necessary band-aids for multiplayer games, where you accept lag which is already an order of a magnitude larger than local input lag. And for single-player games? If you introduce physics your oh-so-nice 1000 Frames per Seconds are basically useless. But please tell me, if I missed something.

The controller function in unreal is separate to the physics engine. Raycasts and spawning do not need to wait for a new physics tick to do their thing.

Interp and extrapolation do not delay your input. Interp fills in lag time with predicted movement for other player characters to hide 50ms+ of lag from the player. Your client side input still exists and is updated client side in realtime. It may get corrected by lag after the fact. Your input is not delayed to match their lag.

Network lag is not an order of magnitude larger than local input lag.

E.g. Dota 2 and CSGO servers in Europe have <40ms ping for most people. Local lag should be up to some 16ms from a 60Hz display plus 1ms from a 1000Hz mouse/keyboard, half of that on average. If the hardware is bad, it could easily be some extra 30ms from the display and maybe 16ms from the mouse/keyboard -- think 125Hz poll rate and bad debounce implementation.

> I (and many, many others) notice lag in games with v-sync turned on vs off, and we're talking about single digit milliseconds there.

Many gamers think they can feel differences in such small ranges of milliseconds... and maybe some can. I bet its not very many though.

I would love to see results of a blind test.

At least at 60fps in a first-person shooter, it’s honestly immediately obvious.

I remember Arma 3 (A pretty serious MilSim game) having 100ms+ input lag at one point so there is definitely room to play with but I don't think it's ever going to be good enough for stereotype PC games - equally, I don't think they're the target market.

Input lag is annoying for sure, but it's the sort of thing where as long as it's consistent and not sporadic, you would mostly adapt to it... Especially assuming you're not playing some kind of competitive real-time game (which most of these games aren't).

Vsync off gives tearing, right? Maybe you're noticing that and not the latency.

Vsync off can sometimes produce tearing, but I find this preferable to vsync on, which eliminates tearing but introduces latency.

Edit: Freesync/G-sync is an attempt to eliminate tearing AND latency. Unfortunately, this often requires a higher response time on many monitors. For example, on my simracing setup with a Samsung CHG90[1], you can't both enable freesync and the fastest response time on the monitor. I opt for the faster response time as it just feels faster and most of the time I don't notice the tearing.

[1] https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/monitors/gaming/49--chg...

Wouldn't that also solve the 20-minute update problem?

More datacenters

That's not a technical solution, that's a "throw money at the problem" solution which is not financially viable for a good portion of the world.

But it is exactly how CDNs and very large web applications have been doing things for ages.

Exactly this. Nearly anything on the internet that is concerned with speed does this in some fashion.

The problem is that the bandwidth costs become too high. Internet streamed video can be encoded with get efficient algorithms, it can be cached at your ISP, and it doesn't care much about latency. None of these are true for game streaming. People will want a higher quality image with low latency and it's not something that can ever be cached.

Two words: edge compute. The major ISPs are in the process of rolling this out in trials, with nationwide rollouts likely to start in 2021. The general idea is that you build some amount of CPU / GPU capacity in the boxes on the poles outside your house. Initial versions likely won't be able to support the full Stadia 4k experience, but it'll be enough to play games like Fortnite or Minecraft.

Considering those last-mile edge devices often cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and use a lot of power, including a few hundred ARM cores isn't a huge cost increase for the benefit it provides.

> including a few hundred ARM cores

You're not going to get a lot of gaming done on ARM cores, when the games Stadia is trying to sell are built for x86 and x64.

Games that run on ARM devices (Fortnight, Minecraft) can already run on Stadia's end user hardware (phones, low-end computers, even many android-based smart TVs), and don't require streaming infrastructure.

Why not? Think Nintendo Switch (which uses an ARM-based Tegra X1), not PS5. And give the hardware 3-5 years; it will be able to do 4k. It'll be just another port.

Also a single Netflix blade can support caching for hundreds of users. Stadia blades support only one user per blade, and it's not like the hardware is cheap or the space in cabines unlimited.

Btw “playstation now” is a thing. I’m streaming games all the time with my ps4 and I have no issues whatsoever.

The biggest problem of all: why would you want your games to be subject to the shutdown whims of Google, like Reader, G+, Wave etc.?

I don't experience any input latency on Stadia. Don't know about the bandwidth consumption though.

This is all relative...

Stadia DOES solve those problems... over a particular range of conditions - and its a respectably wide range. It can't heal shitty internet though, but who said it can?

I used to laugh at the idea of playing games on a tiny screen, especially AAA titles. But I was gifted a Nintendo Switch and I've used it almost exclusively in handheld mode. I played the entirety of Breath of the Wild on planes, morning commutes, and heck, even the bathroom.

That's a gorgeous game that probably deserves a big screen experience. But the convenience of being able to play anytime, anywhere trumps the cumbersomeness of sitting before a TV, switching everything on, and using a controller.

> FPS gaming with a keyboard and mouse isn't coming with you on your phone for the morning commute

People are playing games on their phones on trains and buses and cars all day every day. Mouse and Keyboard FPS games have given way to the control pads on phone touchscreens.

One benefit of being so old and traveled is that I can predict the future more reliably than 40 years ago. Look to dense urban centers for entertainment consumption efficiency and life hacks and you are looking at the future of the culture, even if another wave breaks that pattern a short time later.

Yes density is the hot new thing I agree. The mouse and KB didn't give way. They don't compete with each other. Nobody is deciding to play civ6 on their phone instead of their PC when at home. People play phone games when they are not at a desk where they can game. Gaming diverged, following the hardware.

Honestly what games have 20 minute updates so often? I havent played a game like that in a while. I can only think of MMOs doing this.

I agree as well though, keyboard and mouse is the superrior interface for me.

I was surprised/annoyed by this as a very casual gamer—my sister lent me her Xbox One a few weeks ago, and I have a copy of Halo (Master Chief Collection). I wanted to play it for a few minutes just to relive some memories from Halo CE and see how the remastered graphics looked.

It took like 20 minutes for the game to copy from the disc to internal storage (luckily her Xbox had some free space!), and then it spent another 10 or so downloading an update/patch.

Back when I remember playing Sega, Nintendo, etc. (even Xbox 360, which was the last console I owned), it was a matter of plugging in a cartridge/disc, turning on the system, and playing the game after a few boot screens.

In the end, I only got about 20 minutes of time to play the game since it was night and I had to be up early to help the kids. The experience didn't make me anxious to buy a modern gaming system.

Ah, yes, in the days of yore when the code could fit in an 8k memory chip! :D https://benfry.com/distellamap/

Sorry to hear it was not an enjoyable evening.

With the higher resolutions many TVs support, there's only so much bandwidth and memory headroom to support textures that big, and DVD drives just don't have the seek speed to support. Heck, in the 360 generation we were carefully laying out files broken apart and spaced so the platter would be under the read head at just the right time to reduce that latency.

As for the updates... well, I'm intimately familiar with why patching the four concurrent titles is they way it is. I have hear our feedback was incorporated into a new update system. It's been personally frustrating, when Microsoft/Bungie pioneered the Play-While-Install concept all the way back in Halo 2 Vista. We'll see!

The feedback in this post is my own, and is not meant to reflect that of my employer 343 Industries.

Oh right, console gamer problems. I guess cloud gaming will make them happy, I really hope it doesn't bleed over into PC gaming.

Isn't it already a meme that Steam seems to always require updates before you can play anything?

Steam seems to patch very quickly so that's never been an issue for me.

Some games patch very poorly due to Steam's update mechanism. Path of Exile is notorious for this, to the point many download the standalone client instead. The issue is that it uses one big file for data and this interacts poorly with steam (a tiny patch will take half an hour to apply after downloading, even on SSD).

Steam updates in the background, so it's not really an issue.

However, the install times are still annoying. I really wish more games had play-while-install features. That being said, Steam downloads so much faster than a PS4 installs. I have a gigabit home connection and can get pretty close to saturating it while downloading from Steam, while the PS4 is slow -- apparently due to some technical limitations of the PS4.

If it is, then the meme is an old one. I haven't had to patch before playing in years. Even new games seem to come patched.

You can stop it doing that in the settings if you please.

PC gaming is already just playing catch-up on all the console strategies. That battle was lost as soon as Steam became popular (and game renting indefinitely became enforcable, even for offline games, on PC).

I always thought that it was console that was just playing catch up on all the PC strategies. Could you please further elaborate?

I was surprised this generation to see that they still have disc drives in consoles. I imagine next gen they'll finally be gone.

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."

The bandwidth is great, the ping is awful.

The one and only time I touched an Xbox one, my cousin's, we picked up the game from the store and it turned out to contain a blank disk that went and downloaded the game on insertion. Perhaps that's what happened in your case?

Regardless, never again. It's downright offensive.

>it was a matter of plugging in a cartridge/disc, turning on the system, and playing the game after a few boot screens.

It was also a matter of traveling to the store during opening hours, purchasing the game and traveling home. That is almost always less convenient than purchasing it in a UI and having it download.

What does annoy me is how steam and probably other platforms force you to install updates before you can start a game even if the game has no online features.

I had a comical situation happen a few years ago when I went to a friends house.

Tried to play Halo on his xbox one, something he played almost daily. Required an update which took maybe 10 minutes. Got in and realized we couldn't play local split screen online. Fine, he has a gaming pc, let's fire that up and play with his Rift.

Pc has an update, then steam needed some kind of update, and Oculus did, and then the damn game we wanted to play had it's own update. We just sat there laughing as all in all it took an hour from when we sat down to actually playing something.

If you're not playing regularly, the amount of updates that can happen are insane.

I'm a "patient gamer" so I play games that likely wont be getting updates as much anymore. The newest games I have right now are basically because of Humble Choice. I probably wont play them yet either. I got too many games. I might freeze Humble Choice for a few months at this point.

Linux handles this with much more grace. The entire system from the kernel to the web browser can be updated in a single action without requiring downtime during the update. if steam would integrate itself with linux better, perhaps by using flatpak for itself and all games then things would just be kept up to date for you without 1000 updaters opening when you turn on your compuer.

I've started a process of starting our XBox One about every month, or even three weeks, so that any console updates are done before my wife (main player by about a 90/10 split) has to wait 45 minutes for download/validate/apply cycle.

If she has a game in, I start it as well, same reason.

I like the idea that they are both getting security and/or bug fixes (I'm looking at you, Bethesda) but yeah damn, it's a pain to wait an hour to start playing anymore.

All of them. At least from a console/dual boot perspective. Maybe if the game updates in the background this isn’t true.

But really. Every 3 weeks when I get time to play I spend 40~ minutes updating the game on PS4 because the patch sizes are gigabytes and the harddisk is slow.

The situation is only /slightly/ improved on a dual boot setup but then it’s also complaining about windows updates too, so not much time is actually won there.

Nearly every major FPS has frequent updates.

It's not a huge deal if automatic updates work as expected. I've have too many times where my Playstation fails to auto-update and I'm stuck waiting an hour+ for an update.

I will take this one. I use my ps4 mostly for netflix, but recent holiday season left me with some games. You would be surprised how often those games force you into updates. And then there is PS system updates..

That was my experience with the PS3

>>Cloud gaming means you will be able to take your game “everywhere” and avoid dreaded 20-minute updates before you can start playing.

The problem is latency.

In a world where I am not even happy with the latency, or delay on most of the Code Editor, Keyboard, Screen, Display etc. And Gaming Display Monitor being 120Hz and trending towards 240hz+. We are not even anywhere close to solving latency issues in a local environment, let alone one that is separated by a fibre Optic.

And I not sure about "dreaded" the 20min update, on a decent Internet connection, most of the time is no longer in the network, but CPU decompressing the Data and installing it. But they way update are package are still optimise for minimal bandwidth, not minimal user time.

I dont think the problem with Gaming industry is Distribution or Delivery with Cloud Gaming. It is with the forever increase in Asset Prices. Middleware Engine helped Software Gaming Development cost to stabilise. But the Asset, especially Graphics will need ways to dramatically reduce its time and cost.

> We are not even anywhere close to solving latency issues in a local environment, let alone one that is separated by a fibre Optic.

Actually, this is more or less solved. https://parsecgaming.com/ works really well over a local network. I use a raspberry pi as a thin client to stream games to my tv from a windows vm in my closet. I cant even tell a difference. Its not just for games either; its basically a gpu accelerated remote desktop.

They claim it works really well for remote servers (they even let you lease environments I think) too. For less intensive games, it probably works fine, but for more latency sensitive games, Im sure you can feel the lag.

>> I cant even tell a difference.

I honestly don't understand how anyone can say this with a straight face. I've tried multiple solutions over a local gigabit network, literally just streaming from my gaming PC upstairs to the living room PC, using Steam streaming, Nvidia streaming, and while good, they are very clearly being streamed. Especially in high-detail or darker scenes the artifacts around low-contrast areas are horrendous - it feels like watching a movie rather than playing a game. And even when playing locally the latency is still too high to play racing games for example, I just couldn't get used to it.

Stadia works amazing for people like me though who is not a professional gamer. I don't experience any noticable latency.

Here's a pretty good (quantitative) test of Google Stadia latency for those interested:


Everywhere in this context might not mean in your commute.

One of my gaming friends who is a big fan of Stadia loves it because it means that even though they travel a lot, they will be able to play [enter big aaa pc game] from the comfort of their hotel room (they travel a lot).

Personally, I think I might be tempted to use stadia for another reason : I love FPSs but I have abandoned pc gaming in favor of consoles. I will try to use Stadia in order to play Doom eternal : this way I can play with a mouse and keyboard without having to invest the time, money, space and energy to build a gaming pc.

> Doubt. In the same way that movies on PSP had this idea in mind but fell flat on it's face, games are strongly tied to the format and environment in which you consume them.

I used to have a cheaper laptop back in the olden days so I subscribed to a service called OnLive. It worked like Stadia where the cloud would host and render your game and you could play it online. I loved it! I wish it hadn't gotten bought out and canceled. Doesn't work for certain types of games, obviously, but it's great for most casual things.

I use my Oculus Go and now Quest often in the commute, a big screen with virtualdesktop and/or a gamepad works, even a bluetooth keyboard. And then there is VR gaming...

You probably live in a bubble, because people use the switch and the xbox to watch movies, and use their phones to play shooters and other games that could really use a mouse+keyboard.

Obviously not my thing but we can’t ignore the rest of the world.

>FPS gaming with a keyboard and mouse isn't coming with you on your phone for the morning commute

Fortnite on mobile says otherwise

Fortnite's not an FPS... More seriously, I think this is meant to imply a game like Quake or Counter Strike ("Skill based") rather than Fortnite - i.e. Fortnite has aspects unlike those other two games that cultivate different skills.

Reactions-based or high visual fidelity are the main limiting factors I immediately think of.

There are many games where these aspects aren’t core to the game but there are for sure many where they are.

I was pretty surprised by PUBG’s success in the mobile space - Then again I sunk an immense amount of time into Ring of Elysium when it came out on PC and that was in many ways mobile-esque in gameplay and visuals.

So there’s probably more crossover potential than I acknowledged in the earlier post. I think a lot of my opinion on the limits of cross-platform (multiplayer) gaming was formed back when Quake 3 got cross-play between PC and Dreamcast. It was an absolute bloodbath.

There's a point that the article only brushes on that seems important.

My generation (born in early 70's) was the first to really come up with access to video games pretty much as a given. We had space invaders etc in the arcades (or wherever else they could fit a cabinet), hand-held Nintendo and basic home consoles in primary school and then of course came the boom with PC, PS, X-Box and all that followed.

But a lot of people only a few years older than me are just as dismissive about games now as they were then - this is kids' stuff, a waste of time and money. I'm not an obsessive gamer, but I do play every now and then and I absolutely see games as just another option on the entertainment landscape.

And being that older people weren't into them, I guess I'd always had the thought in the back of my mind that games were something you grew out of, like binge drinking or not caring about your retirement (your examples may vary). But the other day I was playing with friends and I looked around at these ~50 year olds and realised we're never going to "grow out" of this - particularly if the hardware and software just keep improving the way they have.

So for me one of the big reasons that gaming will keep growing is because those older, non-gaming generations will die out, replaced by new generations who start gaming ever earlier while eventually you may find yourself playing call of duty with a platoon of 80+ year-olds.

I'm mixed on this. I grew up with games, similar age as you. I haven't completely stopped but I'm down to a 2-3 games a year. Why? Because they are all the same damn game!!! FPS # 12446, 2D side scroller # 692134, Yet another twin stick shooter, Yet another shmups, Yet another Metroidvania, etc... They aren't changing enough to hold my interest.

Even games that seem "new" don't feel new. I played "Baba is You". Got maybe 50 levels in. It did have new ideas but at its core it felt like I was playing Adventures of Lolo NES from the mid 80s.

VR has added "presence" and being in new places feels novel as well as using hands instead of joypads but there's so few good well made titles and I'm sure that novelty will wear off as well.

I've tried to compare this to movies and TV. I'm not tired of movies and TV. I think the biggest difference is games are about the game, movies and TV are about the story. Games can have good stories but the majority are pretty crap and generally the more story the less game. I don't generally play for the story.

Have you tried Disco Elisium, by any chance? I'm in a very similar position - despite spending my whole professional life in gamedev, I'm mostly disillusioned in games right now. Especially from story perspective: too many titles seem to be written with the same old tropes targeted at teens, at best.

But among all the games that tried to challenge this in the last 10-15 years, Disco Elisium did it the best. It's not just a good story in a shape of a game: it's a very engaging gameplay, built very organically around a story and it's world and characters.

There's a reason this obscure indie game from a no-name Polish studio swept the video game awards. This the only game I've A) ever recommended to other people unprompted B) finished, then immediately started a new game.

> Polish studio

ZA/UM is absed in Estonia.

Maybe that's an ancillary point to that of the article. Games aren't near being fully explored as a medium, and both storyline and gameplay elements have a huge space of potential that hasn't been explored yet.

It's promising that there's many indie games that really push the frontiers of the gaming experiences one can have. E.g. This War of Mine and Firewatch were really big experiences for me, in terms of what stories a game can tell while being quite novel on the gameplay front.

I recently played 'Everyone's Gone To The Rapture' - for a lot of people it's not enough of a 'game' for them, but from a story point of view it's really engaging. Once the most enjoyable gaming experiences I've ever had. Totally recommended.

I don't buy it. It's not like every single episode in every single TV series is completely mind-blowingly different than everything else. At this point you've probably seen all the tropes, seen all the plot twists. I also doubt that TV series are captivating because of the story. They're more about the characters, and how you either like them or like to dislike them, or how their experiences make you feel. With the advent of mass-produced media, story no longer has the unifying role within a culture that it once had, we no longer care about the moral of a story, on the contrary we'd rather there weren't any. Story has been downgraded to a vehicle for emotion, or for a punchline in the case of Seinfeld.

And sure, I also play a lot less than I used to. But there are still fantastic games out there worth playing. I loved Hollow Knight and Cuphead and Hyper Light Drifter. And they all were created by people who grew up with the same games as I did.

I like to keep connected I guess. I kind of feel like games have grown up with me, too, almost in parallel.

When I was a kid they were simple and clumsy. I hit puberty in the 80s as games started to come into their own and the industry formed a bit of an identity. In my 20's (the 90's) there was this flurry of activity and games started to be a bit cool and not just for kids and geeks.

By my 30's, games had started making a bit of money and the industry got more professional. Now I'm in my 40's and gaming is kind of bloated and complacent and compromised, but still capable of amazing things, much more amazing than 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

Plus gaming is one of our generation's biggest contributions to culture. Really, it's that and hip hop. Everything else is just a sub genre, but those are two sensational contributions, imo.

Games can create worlds, and the feeling of being present in that world, sometimes better than movies. It is not just about the plot and gameplay. Atmosphere plays a big role.

For examples, try Paris and Sapienza missions in Hitman 2016. Or GTA 5, which will be an amazing snapshot of what 2010s were like in the US.

Well to be fair, the same is true of films and tv. Story arc# 1234, character development #2, twist #3. I am not sure though if it is true of books though. Possibly because the information is much more in books than can be fitted into a 2 hour film / 40 hour game.

Try the last of us and celeste.

Try the original Deus Ex, System Shock 2, Metal Gear Solid 1, Silent Hill 2.

The last of us is just a generic 3rd person shooter saved by its cinematics.

Hard agree. I don’t understand why everyone liked it - it felt old fashioned and boring to me even when it came out. It had boss fights and a sewer level, for god’s sake, a sewer level!

I feel like a lot of people “hate” the last of us due to its many praises. But if you didn’t read any reviews about the game would you really rate it this low? Did you finish it?

I finished it when it released and liked it back then. Recently, I got the remaster and played it about half way through until I admitted to myself that it's just not a great game. It's not bad either. But it doesn't really stand out gameplay wise and the story can't save the game. I don't want to convince you to dislike the game, but maybe consider if TLOU is really a game that stands out among 3rd person shooters on its own merit.

I'm a tad younger than you and I'd like your opinion. I stopped caring about the gaming industry because

1) even if it's entertainment, I think the deep value is .. as a kid thing. It's not dismissive, I just think that gaming value has limits. It's a dreamy world you interact with and that fits the younger brain. As adults you'd rather master the real world more.

2) I find games today not much more original than in the past, it plateau-ed somehow [0] and they're mostly selling more technical oomph to justify new things.

[0] to be honest I interact very lightly with games, only a cousin younger than I show me some stuff, this plus the fads you can hear about online.

Do you really think a PS5 game will be that much more enjoyable than a PS2 game ? The other question .. well you answered it. You and your friends are still into them.

> Do you really think a PS5 game will be that much more enjoyable than a PS2 game

Can be, absolutely.

I played Read Dead Redemption 2 last year. There's a wild west cowboy outlaw game in there somewhere with a storyline that you can finish, but what completely blew my mind is how stunningly beautiful it is, how beautiful the world you're riding around in is, and how ugly human encroachment on nature is. Because as time progresses in the game, the frontier moves a little bit further, more trees are felled, more clearings made, more houses built, more railway tracks are laid, more humans, more civilization, more stinking cities.

You absolutely could not make a game like that on a PS2. You need a 4K screen and hi-res textures and HDR lighting to really make the world pretty, to really make you care about that world.

I played Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch as well. It's also an open-world game, and because it has infinite draw distance, they've managed to craft a world where no matter where you stand, you can see something interesting in the distance. I have never played a game that made me be so excited to explore and to get sidetracked as that game. The actual gameplay is also expertly bite-sized, so it doesn't matter if you play for 15 minutes or 15 hours, you still have the same sense of progression.

You absolutely could not make a game like that on a GameCube. You need hardware enough to do a seamless open world with infinite draw distance and no loading screens, otherwise the experience just doesn't work, just wouldn't be able to show you all it has to offer all at once.

LIke I say, I'm not a hardcore gamer so I don't know if I'm best qualified to answer your questions, but basically...

1) Everything has its limits. There are seven basic plots[0] and while human creativity has an amazing ability to retell them in different ways, after a while you definitely start to see patterns. The real world is great and I definitely keep up with current affairs etc, but if you look too closely in any direction things are kind of messed up. Sometimes a dreamy world is a nice place to be, particularly if you can get there without risking too much damage to yourself.

2) I guess every art form is constrained by its boundaries - you could say that nothing much has happened in portaiture in the last 600 years. I think that story telling is getting better in gaming, and player choice and branching is definitely something that keeps pushing outwards. The whole online/collaborative scene is something that we've wanted from the start and is really only being solved satisfactorily now.

> Do you really think a PS5 game will be that much more enjoyable than a PS2 game?

Not necessarily - some old games are great, and the whole retro-gaming craze is a testament to this - but that will only feed the cumulative growth of games. People will be playing the classics and the new releases.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Basic_Plots

> There are seven basic plots[0]

That book's theories should be considered critically, not as an accepted view of literature.

1) I don't see it. All adults I know who aren't into gaming still enjoy non-real world things for entertainment. Be they books, movies, sports, TV, etc. You work at mastering your profession, raising your kids, and all the other real world stuff and sometimes you just want to enjoy life.

2) Yes and no. I think this comes around to the fact that there are only so many stories and that there have been original games but they tend not to be big. The big genres in games have been pretty well defined and while original things do get introduced, most are refinements. Also execution matters much more than original content in games and that seems to be hit and miss.

Personally I went through a period of about 15 years where I gamed very little. A time when my kids were young and work was much more demanding. I got back into gaming maybe 6-7 years back when my kids were old enough to have their own interests and I professionally became confident enough that I didn't need constant study. So it might be something that changes as you grow.

I recently started gaming after a good 8-10 years of non gaming. I installed Dirt Rally and bought a racing wheel controller. It is a blast to drive in a simulator-like game. I don't think it is a game I would've have enjoyed as a kid or a teen. The current gaming landscape is broad and covers more niches than ever before. Explore games that align with your interests.

Your 1st argument could be made for watching television. Television shows also range from self-learning to toddler cartoons to historical dramas.

I am surprised many of my non-gaming friends/relatives, even if they do not play themselves, do not seem to be absolutely amazed by modern games. The fact that we can have such rich worlds as GTA 5, affordable to so many, run in one's living room, with such amazing graphics and overall richness, that we can control and interact with, rendered in 4k in real time! Even as a tech person I find that almost unbelievable. And all of that created in such a short period of time, too!

To me, it seems like an absolutely astonishing achievement of humanity, one of the marvels of this world. Completely mindblowing. And yet the reaction I get from a lot of people, e.g. my older relatives, but also people in their 30s and 40s, is of complete indifference - "meh, games are for kids". I struggle to understand that.

I interact less with games not because I don't like playing them but because I have far less time for them. Honestly, I do casual games a lot more simply because they are easier to pick up and put down.

Gaming got me into programming (mods are fun).

> 2) I find games today not much more original than in the past, it plateau-ed somehow

This can be typically said about the mainstream AAA market but much less so about indie games from small teams.

Good point, it's mostly about the mainstream market structure. Higher stakes => less risk.

AKA how movies and TV get made

>Do you really think a PS5 game will be that much more enjoyable than a PS2 game

The PS5 will be the first console to support VR at launch. Thats a huge difference. VR games are light night and day compared to flat screen gaming.

Nigh 50 year old reporting in - I agree 100%. Some of my fondest memories are related to video games, and I still have friends I've never met in real life that I enjoy more than many people I have. My wife, son, and I are a gamer family, and I think better because of it. I had very little connections to my parents (who were great) at the level my wife and I have with our son (11). We laugh and joke about gaming, share memes, and watch each other play. We also do other things together (hikes, fishing, board games etc), but I see people that don't play video games in the same light as those that don't watch movies or don't listen to music or don't read books - they're missing a fascinating part of life.

While I think games are an underused medium for advertising and promoting, I'm not sure about any claim of it "taking over." Mobile games on the rise and all that, blah blah. From my own experience, as my purchasing power has grown, my gaming time has declined. I did play a lot of Breath of the Wild. However, I have another couple of games I'd like to play, but I just don't have the time.

Most people play less games as their income goes up, but they also watch less TV. They have less time. TV was mostly watched by kids and is watched by the elderly (Fox News / CBS). When you are old you may find yourself watching less Fox News and playing more Nintendo?

I'm a huge gamer (and make both video games and board games in my spare time), but as I get older, I'm also playing less games yet watching more TV (or Youtube or podcasts).

TV is something I can have on while I work on responsibilities around the house (dishes, cooking, putting things away, for example), while eating dinner, and in the background while I'm working on graphic design or programming for various personal projects.

I can't do those things and play games at the same time, like I can with TV. Sure I could watch other people play games via Twitch, but that just tends to annoy me because those people waste so much time doing what I wouldn't do, or trying to figure things out, or saying dumb crap to try to gain an audience, so I've never really gotten into it (I know I'm in the minority there).

I do still play games, but it's a lot less time than it used to be.

I know I sure as hell will :)

I've experienced the same. Breath of the Wild and Red Dead Redemption 2 are the only recent games that got any notable amount of playtime from me. I still buy many games once they get down to $5-$10. God of War and Spiderman were my most recent purchases since they just got down below $10, who knows if I'll ever actually play those.

The truly big games, in terms of hours played, seems to be online multiplayer. MMORPG, FPS, whatever DOTA is... those are the games where some people start putting in 1000+ hours per year. Problem is close to everyone can enjoy TV and movies, not everyone wants to do eSports.

Those plus Civilization.

The article is less about how much people play in an absolute sense, but more about how much people play compared to how much time they spend watching television (and streaming services like Netflix).

You say that your gaming time has declined. Has your time watching tv declined comparably? Which of the two - gaming or tv - would you say is more important in your life?

> You say that your gaming time has declined. Has your time watching tv declined comparably? Which of the two - gaming or tv - would you say is more important in your life?

My gaming has declined to zero, and my time watching TV has increased greatly. TV is much easier to make into a shared experience than video games. You can also find informative non-fiction TV, while nearly all games are fiction with relatively simple plots.

I think this article cherrypicks and makes all kinds of wild extrapolations to get to the unwarranted conclusion that gaming will "take over." The most glaring in my mind it doesn't address the kinds of lifestyle changes that happen as people age, that are extremely relevant to the overall uptake of media like video games.

I agree mostly with Seenso. I can watch national geographic with the family easily, or watch some trash tv. My tv time is also lower, but it is easier to prioritize that over getting a multiplayer game going that we can all co-op on.

For a medium that has growing revenue, the major players and properties are attempting increasingly manipulative, desperate, awful, and addictive mechanisms to squeeze more revenue.

IMO that just makes more opportunity for indies. I didn't really start exploring indie games actively until I started hating the AAA games that were coming out.

To an extent. Even the most manipulative mechanics have died down amid significant player protest. (e.g. Star Wars Battlefront II)

Case in point: modern console games have been trying to avoid pushing loot box mechanics as much as possible. (mobile gacha games are a bit more complicated, but even those have been made substantially less greedy)

Revenue may be growing, but so are costs and competition.

While almost anyone can code up a game, I disagree with you overall.

"AAA" games are MASSIVE undertakings of world building, art production, coding, integration, and, of course, financing.

Very similar to movies and, well, goddamn everything of any complexity in our economy, a cartel has formed.

There are only a handful of AAA "studios/producers".

No, it won't.

While there are outstanding single player narrative experiences leveraging the format to further the narrative, there's nothing like a good TV show or movie for joint attention.

When enjoying a narrative with friends or a loved one many people will not want to pause to argue furiously over what dialogue choice to make or how to deal with a moral dilemma.

Games are a fantastic medium. But there have limitations, just as every other medium does.

Remember when radio was going to make the written word obsolete? Or TV kill off sound-only formats and movie theaters?

The medium is an integral part of the message. Video games are a new medium that will be added to the mix, not replace it, just as every media before it.

Playing Until Dawn with my colleagues at lunch was awesome.

I think there is definitely a space for interactive movie style games.

I want Man of Medan on Stadia!

Non-interactive fictional media - I want someone to tell me a story. Interactive fictional media - I want to be in the story / make my own story.

I think we're living in a golden age to be honest.

How much TV do you think is watched with others?

A lot, actually. It is probably easiest way how the couple can do something together, rest and cuddle while doing it and have something to talk about afterwards. You can do it together with kids while browsing on the phone - you are there and available while not forced to participate too much too.

I’m not sure why you say that video fames are a new medium. We’ve had video game for a pretty long time.

Article seems to forget that there are vast swaths of the population that do not play games. They do not have the patience to learn how to play games, not even console games with simpler controls. Even casual games require some level of skill to play, or they're not any fun, and the joy of television is that you do not need any special skill to enjoy it. This isn't even getting into people who view games as a waste of time, worse than television--at least television can sometimes teach you something, most games do not. You could try to argue that because a lot of children play games, future generations will be more game-focused, but I still don't believe that it's even close to a simple majority of children who like playing games as much as watching video content. Video content will always win because they don't take much (or any) energy (physical, mental, or emotional) to enjoy. I think most people find that you reach a point in the day where you're too tired to literally do anything else (no reading, no gaming) but stare at video until you're ready to fall asleep.

Get in line. People have been making that argument since the dawn of time. Even "writing" was heavily criticized over memorization and oral story telling. Each criticism declaring the end and ruin of civilization.

If I had to pick one of them to actually make this complaint against it would be computer (AI) generated content optimized for clicks on video websites (think kids videos on youtube).

It sounds like you think the OP is making a moral argument against games, but I don't believe they are.

I have no moral issue with time spent on games. My son plays quite a lot and I think that's fine.

I have zero interest in them though. There are a lot of reasons for this, but they aren't moral reasons - just preferences. I'd note that this also reflect in my lack of interest in board/card games.

I know a lot of people like me, from all age groups - they'll watch video content but have no interest in playing games. I think that the article author misses that.

It's important to think that the moral critique of video games isn't the only one around; it's possible to think that it's moral to play video games[0] but that they have a much lower aesthetic value (inherently or on average) than other artforms.

[0] The moral status of people who play games involving killing, rape, etc. may seem irrelevant, but there's a paper I read a while ago[1] which argues that under a deontological system, playing such games may be immoral because of their content - a pro tanto wrong. I suppose the argument has less weight as most lay people are consequentialists or moral relativsits.

[1] "This paper is concerned with whether there is a moral difference between simulating wrongdoing and consuming non-simulatory representations of wrongdoing. I argue that simulating wrongdoing is (as such) a pro tanto wrong whose wrongness does not tarnish other cases of consuming representations of wrongdoing. While simulating wrongdoing (as such) constitutes a disrespectful act, consuming representations of wrongdoing (as such) does not." https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10676-018-9463-7

> but there's a paper I read a while ago[1] which argues that under a deontological system, playing such games may be immoral because of their content - a pro tanto wrong.

I think even most deontologists would consider the deontological status of participation in a game depicting/simulating certain subject matter as at least sometimes significantly different from the deontological status of actually participating in the act, a distinction similar to use/mention distinctions.

Sure, a set of moral axioms on which those are categorically equivalent is possible, but I don't think it's common even among deontological frameworks that don't reduce to consequentialism.

>at least sometimes significantly different from the deontological status of actually participating in the act, a distinction similar to use/mention distinctions.

True, that's as much as the paper argues, too. My point wasn't that most deontologists would consider it immoral, only that someone has argued (quite convincingly) that it can be.

I don't find video games "less" in anyway, aesthetic or otherwise.

The moral argument you point to there seems limited to violent FPS-style games - unless you consider Chess to be deontologically questionable (and surely these concerns are increased in games like poker, where bluffing (lying) to other humans is part of the game). It's an interesting intellectual argument, but not particularly relevant to my point.

> Even "writing" was heavily criticized over memorization and oral story telling.

do you have articles to read about that ?

Surely Socrates would appreciate his critics being passed down in writings

There are a whole new generation of games that are breaking that issue. Overcooked is a coop “cooking” game where you and your friends have to take actions in a kitchen to make orders as they appear on the top of the screen. My 60+ year old parents picked up the 2 button controls with ease. The game is more project management and communication but gamified.

There is a huge population of people who are mobile gamers and it’s not the demographic of 10-20 year olds. It’s middle aged folks.

Something I think about is how there have been outstanding games that the majority of people will never play. Just in recent years - Red Dead I and II, Horizon Zero Dawn, Last of Us, etc. These have quality/polish up with Breaking Bad or any acclaimed movie/TV, but no one else in my extended family would have played a second of any of them. How do you bring that experience to people?

I had two thoughts yesterday:

- emotional investment. Experiences like the last of us are much greater than any critically acclaimed tv show imo. And this is because of the limitations of the tv medium. A video game gets you more emotionally invested because you are active when playing. Perhaps interactive movies are a compromise.

- boardgames, websites and UI. Remember back then when all websites were using flash and all looked different? It was pretty cool. Yet you still had to learn a new UI for every website you visited. Nowadays all websites seem to exhibit the same UI and everybody (even my grandmother) is browsing the web. A header, a nav bar, a home button, a register button, a login button, etc. I feel the same about boardgames. When you get into a new boardgame you know you’ll have to 1/ read the rules 2/ play one game to learn and 3/ profit. Videogames are the opposite. Each game is a totally new experience, even in terms of menu or configuration or controller setup. Your friend has a different console? You’ll have to learn a new controller. It’s way harder to invest yourself in videogames, or to start a new videogame.

In the early days of film there were long running serials played that had such a the investment that it had a limited audience. Film became more mainstream as it's format locked down to 1.5-2hr films that busy people could enjoy.

Investing heavily into a long running video game is more intensive than long running film. Finding the right form for those experiences that isn't totalizing in it's presentation could help. A 3hr run and done episode of red dead might be more consumable.

Maybe. Smart-phone based 2hr experience in the Red Dead world, perhaps?

We don't want that experience. You don't bring it to us, you let us enjoy things we want to enjoy.

How were you once exposed to the things you now enjoy? New foods, new media, new books? I'd suggest that many people wouldn't know what some of these games look like, how they play, how detailed the story is. Maybe you personally know and have zero interest - that's fine - but I'm talking about people who don't know and might have interest.

Most people just don't seem interested in video games. You don't "bring it" to them, the same way as you don't bring for example fishing to people who have no interest in it.

I haven't watched a second of breaking bad or most top rated movies. How do you bring that experience to me? Movies and TV shows are just things I rarely have much interest in.

I respect Matt a lot for his continued valuable insight on the streaming universe, but I think he goes into the wrong direction here (probably some confirmation bias involved).

> Most media categories are confined by three challenges. First is their finite length. At a certain point, you reach the last page of a book, last episode of a TV show, or end of a podcast.

This is a feature, not a bug. With the massive, coordinated attack of the attention economy on everyone's focus, I predict a new wave of burned victims who voluntarily eject from "hedonistic treadmill" type games where you play all day long and never reach the end in order to go back to completing wholesome experiences.

There's a whole generation to still discover what an end game screen looks like, but once they've seen a great and hard earned one, it's hard to go back on that satisfaction.

A game can have no ending because it's an endless grinding treadmill (like most pay-to-win mobile games and their most satanic incarnation, gacha games, where they endlessly introduce new characters to milk the player base for money) or it can have no ending because it's a sandbox where you can make your own story, like TES Daggerfall or Ultima Online (Daggerfall did have a main quest with endings but many players choose to just live their life, buy houses, become the leader of factions and so on). Then there are also games that do have a restricted length but they generate very different stories so they have almost endless replayability, like Civilization games or (if I may digress a bit into a totally different thing) AI Dungeon 2.

In the former kind of games, indeed infinite length is not an advantage, but I think in the latter two kinds, it is.

Can we talk about those dreaded twenty minute updates? As someone who no longer has unlimited gaming time to burn, enormous updates that do nothing but make minor balance tweaks are the bane of my gaming experience.

Cloud gaming may help this, but realistically: the fact that you notice updates (on fast internet) is really a tech problem that even local-rendering traditional consoles can solve.

Background updating should be a thing. It is available on every major console. It never works. That can be fixed.

Additionally, there have been rumblings about where innovation is going to surface in the next generation of consoles. One of the more consistent themes is the handling of downloads; it'll be easier for developers to "shard out" their game into the components that, say, a particular mode or level or segment need, in order to get players into the game as quickly as possible. It may be a 50gb game, but you'll only have to download 3gb of it to get started.

We're seeing some of this on the XB1/PS4 today, but usually its very binary: Ready to Play, then Full Download. Next gen consoles will get much more specific and optimized. I believe (don't quote me on this) Sony has outright said that their goal is: you buy a game and you play it instantly, with no cloud rendering/streaming; just really smart handling of downloads and packaging.

The most ironic thing about gaming over the past generation is that games always used to be like this: you buy a disk/cartridge, and you're playing. Nowadays, you buy a disk, the disk has to install to the drive, then there's a day 1 update; its a total mess. We'll see how the next generation looks, but I doubt very much the situation will look much better for people with bad internet. If you've got great internet though, maybe we'll be close to the way it looked in the past.

Interestingly this point:

> more about creating an environment that audiences never want to leave and which constantly sucks them back in

Is basically why I decided to never play a game again. I just won't.

And also why I am getting stressed when I see partner starting a game, cause periods of addiction and consequential sleep deprivation and all that suck not just for gamer.

>>> Unprecedented Content Leverage

The other day I was in the mood for some "Crossy Road". I had deleted it from my Kindle years ago to curb my time suck. Now it's not in the store anymore. Replaced by a new version from the same developer, "Hipster Whale", but re-branded as a tie-in with Disney characters.

The new art is flat and unremarkable. Where the original was really charming. And actual user performance is virtually unplayable. A far cry from the immortal re-playability of the original. Not to mention the ubiquitous promotional dark patters, the pernicious in-app purchase harpings, the auto play trailers with 1x1px cancel buttons that link to a store and thrash game state, loot boxes, and characters from edge IP no one has ever heard of. Instead of the original's unforgettable characters such as "Frankenstein" "Disco Zoo" and "Kimchi".

And yet this version is probably more popular than ever! With a burst of revenue to boot. If the market is speaking it really begs to question. Besides ISVs on zero budgets, who will invest in "pure" action-arcade oriented video games?

That's weird that you couldn't find the original Crossy Road. The website says it's available from Amazon.

I've played both games on iOS, and I haven't noticed a performance difference between them. Also, the original still gets some new characters every so often, while Disney Crossy Road hasn't gotten new characters in two years.


Had to reset device (3rd gen fire hd) but finally installed. Still find classic version framerate much better than disney ;)

Not sure why you couldn't find it but Disney Crossy Road and Crossy Road are both available on the major app stores.

Games are just the forefront to interactive media. Apps are getting "gamified" and pretty much anything that can be interactive will be because it's the next level as far as creative and communication medium. At first it was just paintings etc, then photography, then film, and now games which is really interactive digital content.

I’d go as far to say that the majority of the applications people use today that aren’t strictly business productivity tools are, more or less, games. This includes social media, fitness trackers, etc.

Curmudgeon, here. Why do books, paintings, photos, and film exist at all anymore?

Maybe because we don't all want everything "interactive" all the time.

I handled a paper newspaper the other day - it was very soothing.

I have the same experience whenever I read a paper. I wonder if there's anything intrinsic to that or if I only like it because of nostalgia.

Tactile and audio feedback matter a lot; think of eating (shelled) peanuts v. pistachios.

I think its both nostalgia and knowing the format means its around N pages, has an abstract and a conclusion, etc.

But what I find more calming about paper newspaper and magazines is how static it is (the web could be as well of course). No ads popping, no video ads, no chance the content will be replaced with a paywall in 5 seconds. Since I arrive on different sites from Google/Twitter all the time, I never remember which ones I actually have access.

And opening the rare site that I know is open and without ads feels like a very premium experience (eg some Craig Mod writing I found on my email yesterday https://www.eater.com/2019/12/16/21003452/japan-kissaten-tra...)

Also: IRL "arriving at the thing" (say finding an interesting magazine in the doctors office) means that I can read what is inside. Unlike the internet nowadays ("you reached your monthly quote of 5 articles")

I've never known any different. The private eye only publishes in print so it's paper until I die (or the paper folds)

All of those things have been given interactive platforms in pre-internet settings: book clubs, museums, galleries and film festivals.

It's of course important to have the option to enjoy them by yourself at times-- but you can do this with games, too.

Nearly all visual & audio art can be presented in a game-like environment (such as a customized VR setting), so in a way a game engine is a superset of every piece of art in those categories. And they will all continue to exist, because part of art is confining your expression to a defined medium to intensify your focus on it.

For me the lack of interactivity is the feature.

Games these days already have graphics that sometimes makes them seem real (in 4k/5k on 2080Ti/Titan RTX, Ultra), especially landscapes or space settings, and often much more interesting story than most TV shows. In addition, whole sports segments like motor racing are way less fun to watch than to play a quite realistic simulator, where players are often current/former top-level real-world racers.

> Games these days already have graphics that sometimes makes them seem real

Assassin's creed odyssey looks fucking outrageously good - considering it has the "whole" (compressed) ancient Greece to render. I was brought up on a PS1 (still a long way from the likes of Pacman etc.) but the progress that has been made is amazing.

> motor racing are way less fun to watch than to play a quite realistic simulator,

This is true but (good) simulator rigs are really expensive + simracing brings you to the cold hard reality that you don't have it (Max Verstappen I ain't :| )

Honestly, I'm hoping this isn't the case.

Gaming becoming more and more popular recently has only just been detrimental to the industry as a whole as we've come to learn that shareholders are willing to sacrifice game quality for profits.

Every new release is just eye-candy and a thinly-veiled money grab while delivering shallow gameplay. It's very disheartening. Especially when you consider the fact that for the younger gamers this is all they know.

They never got a chance to see video games unaffected by lootboxes, B2P games with cash shops or "free to play" games that aren't blatantly pay to win.

Let's not even touch on the shady & dehumanizing labor practices the entire gaming industry seems normalizes.

The future of gaming is anything but positive for me. I feel like most people are mistaking the success of new technologies (AR & VR) as the success of video games. Most videos games release in the last 5 years are absolute shite and the ones that aren't are marginal at best.

Author is confusing active screen-browsing (TikTok) active digital pastimes (gaming) with passive leisure activities that also involve screens, and before screens, radio.

Before the age of TV, you could lay on couch with eyes closed listening to radio shows. You can still do this technically even with TV shows, but it’s obviously not as good.

Watching TV is a completely passive activity, especially watching TV shows like on Netflix; maybe sports are more active watching.

TikTok is just scrolling social media, you have to keep your hand on the screen constantly to browse that corner of the Internet. And that’s really all the social networks are, a corner of the Internet. With a bunch of different people and interests promoting their own ideas or selves. You can’t lay down and passively watch it; you have to browse and control your destination.

There will always be people who simply don’t find video games amusing or prefer passive activities like laying and watching shows.

I had the opposite thought as the author earlier tonight - Netflix is taking over the world; it already did. It seems like every few days new content is showing up for people to consume; as a heavy consumer, I think part of that is because Netflix knows they are feeding the hunger and they never want you to have a night alone on the couch where you can’t find something to watch. Apple TV+ will only intensify this.

I bet there are a bunch of single, young people who have little social life and spend most of their free time watching Netflix. People of all ages and demographics, really, families too, but I guess I identify and understand the first group.

After a few days of binge watching, you feel woven with the characters and it feels like a part of your social life possibly more so than that friend you haven’t seen in months/etc. Just for a few moments until you move on to something else, you feel like you know these characters. Like you’ve lived in their little world. I’ve heard the same things about people who watch high-profile gamers play, or YouTuber fans.

So maybe the really scary thing here is that Nf, YT, gaming and other avenues make entertainment sooo cheap and sooo accessible nowadays that real, in-person relationships are being replaced by something less tangible - and much less valuable. Reminds me of the article I read a few days ago about a person listening to “pretend boyfriend pillow talk” on YouTube. Apparently these things help with feelings of loneliness but they. Just. Aren’t. Real.

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