Xbox One, PS4, WiiU, the debate has been circling on what makes a game “next gen worthy” and what kind of innovation constitutes a “next gen idea”.
So what is next gen? What was last gen? Video games are evolving as an art form and developers every where are recognizing, “We control where this goes now, so what’s next?”
Games are one of the most unique forms of media in the sense that they bring one crucial aspect to experiencing a franchise: interaction.
With interaction comes many possibilities in story telling like choice, free reign, and customized input. When games first started, there was a recognition that input was the key aspect, giving birth to what’s known now as interactive fiction, but was originally called text-based games. Zork is a classic example.
The game told you what was in front of you, and you told it what you wanted to do in return. This concept was revolutionary, and because of this massive shift in our view of what games could do, this would make a new generation of gaming.
From there, depending on how you break up the history of gaming, there were generations and revolutions that included the genre split, graphical interfaces, 2D, 3D, controllers, IR guns; like the ones for duck hunt, voice actors, more genre splitting, hybrid genres, touch input, voice input, virtual reality, and so many other crazy advances in technology that, if compared to even 50 years ago is astonishing, but what is it that separates our current generation from the last?
I have a few theories and suggestions:
Open world: Nearly every game at this point has a feeling that the world is free-roam, that a player can go anywhere that they see at any point.
Choice / divergent story lines: A concept that was hinted at many generations ago with speech options has now become an industry standard where a single choice now will effect game play later. Some games like the upcoming Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition, even feature multiple endings and changing environments.
Replay value: This one is huge. Many gamers have been frustrated for years that games are played through one time and spent 20 hours or so on and were entirely completed. A gamer could go back and play it again, but the law of diminishing return makes the game much less enjoyable the second time around. Developers have come up with many ways to help with this like choice and open worlds.
So what makes a game truly next gen?
I think from all the time spent here as a writer and being a gamer long before that, I am fairly educated when it comes to gaming, but next gen is an illusive concept. How do you define something that is new and unique? It’s like trying to categorize an iPod before MP3 players existed. It can only be called “next gen”.
Let us know what you think or if you have more ideas about what deserves a new console in the comments section below or on our Twitter page @APGNation.