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Prediction Week: Day Three

Everything stays the same

A more cynical view of the world of tomorrow! I did try to get prediction week renamed "The Predict-o-tron", and the refusal has left me sullen.

5. Mixing politics and games will still be like putting marbles in a blender

Politicians have the world to run, lives to change, people to help. The fact that they'll often attempt to meddle with gaming is for one reason only: publicity. Tabloids alternately hate games and give them away free on Saturdays. That's a lot of column inches to be associated with.

Trouble is, to get those column inches you need to be controversial. "Games bite man" is what we've had up until now. No attempt to understand the effect of games and, even worse, wilfully ignoring facts for sensationalist idiocy: Manhunt is a prime example, where the game was blamed as the defining factor in a boy's murder despite the victim being the one that owned it. Even after the police and judge had made it clear that game had squat to do with it, Members of Parliament were dragging Manhunt through Commons.

There's nothing even approaching a dialogue going on between publishers, developers and politicians happening right now. The games industry is left to create, self-regulate then suffer the consequences of what's at best a lack of understanding on a politician's part, and at worst an attempt to boost public profile by attacking a popular cause.

My prediction: more of the same. Manhunt 2 has been announced, and they'll try to ban it before it's out. Without having played it. Sigh!

6. The mouse won't die, and graphics cards will get more powerful.

We've got the Wiimote. It's wonderful, but it's still a long way from being as intuitive or accurate as The Mouse (capitalised for emphaisis). I love The Mouse, and I can't see past it as the dominant gaming controller for the foreseeable future, however I'd like to see some complimentary technologies, just for fun, y'ken?

Touch screen seems, to me, the most obvious step. There's loads of research going on out there, videos constantly popping up in places like Engadget showing people dragging their fingers across walls of light, zooming in on Google Maps like you expect people of the future (or Tom Cruise) to do. The application is clear: in an RTS you're not removed from the screen of WAR, where you put your finger is where you bomb. I'm not expecting tables and monitors to combine in some horrible yet endearingly pathetic amalgam, but I would love to see monitors to come with touch sensitive screens.

There's other tech out there, polyphonic sound, weird gloves that simulate touch, flexible screens... none of which will ever be sold in PC World as standard. We have a standard model that PC gamers seem comfortable in, which saddens me. We're in a bubble at the moment, with only the odd (and crap) variations of WASD controllers and oddly shaped mice making it through.

My prediction: crap reworkings of the basic mouse form will still suck, and every six months everyone will crave a new graphics card. Sigh!

7. The usual games will be released and people will ignore student games.

We're partly to blame for this. We're a cog in the machine, forever rewarding dragons and orcs and men with guns with front covers, and relegating the rest to bit-part status. PC Gamer are better than most when it comes to rewarding page to deserving games, but you don't buy a magazine based on the third downloader box on page 105.

I nearly wept with joy after playing Narbacular Drop. And when Valve showed off Portal at EA's Hot Summer Nights last year, in amongst a wave of applause I was shouting "That's f*%^@*g Narbacular Drop!". I had to draw out the lineage of Portal to a room full of what was supposed to be the smartest games commentators on the planet.

Everyone sucks.

The reason I knew about it is I care about the smaller games. I love picking up something no-one's playing and passing it around like a sleazy husband at a wife-swapping party. "Go on, have a go. No, that's all cleared up. The doctor gave me some medicine". Ehm.

So what to do? This is the one prediction I can make that we can actually have a part in its coming true.

Prediction: PC Gamer will give a portion of this website away to a student game competition, and we'll do our best to cover indie games on a more regular basis.

*crosses fingers*

Awesome! Dare to be Digital have just e-mailed...

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