Hideo Kojima is a gaming legend. His plans to integrate gaming, film, music and more, formed the basis of a quick interview I gave this morning on the sofa at BBC Breakfast.
It’s not a new idea that these different media might converge. In some ways it is happening already: look at the integration across the Marvel Universe where comic stories weave in and out of games, TV shows and films. Or how film promotion now starts with experiential games seeded around the internet. People have long considered ways to make the cinema experience interactive — a group ‘choose your own adventure’. And the natural conclusion of high-end games is total immersion in an experience of cinematic reality via VR.
But I don’t think this is what Kojima is suggesting. Rather, what I interpret from his few words, is that a single, multi-threaded narrative might be explored through multiple forms of media combined in a single entertainment package.
This makes a lot of sense with the convergence of entertainment delivery on a small number of devices: phones, tablets and streaming boxes. With some caveats, and the support of some high-end servers in the background, these devices are capable of delivering anything from a simple page of text to a rich VR experience.
Why not utilise this breadth of capability to engage us in many different ways? It’s certainly one answer. But I don’t think this is the biggest opportunity in the future of gaming.
The largest single segment of the gaming market, following years of rapid growth, is mobile gaming. Within that, the largest phenomenon in recent years is Pokemon Go. Though limited, I think this AR experience points to what will be the most popular and pervasive form of gaming.
Lessons for tomorrow
Imagine real life, gamified through the overlay of the physical world with digital sights and sounds. Virtual places, people, objects and creatures that you can interact with as though they were real. We’ve acclimatised to people speaking to themselves on wireless headsets. People running around the streets chasing Pokemon seemed to generate a lot more smiles and good will than criticism and questioning. I think we’ll adapt to people playing in the streets in their own virtual world — eventually.
The revenue streams are certainly there to drive such an industry. Imagine an advert you have to interact with to win a game. Imagine that advert is a virtual character with a rounded virtual intelligence. This is a far cry from today’s billboards: this is hyper-targeted, totally personalised, and fully interactive.
Whether you like the sound of that or not, it’s coming.