What is this world coming to? Jesse Schell interviews Bob Bates, game designer and former chair of the IGDA. In it, Bates predicts a few future changes in video games, but the one that is really interesting has to do with player-character interaction. He believes that soon, players will build real emotional conversations with avatars and other NPCs. This goes beyond being scared that your character is going to die, or feeling bad that they had a tragic past. These are real emotion bonds.
What sort of societal changes would this bring on? Video game addiction is well on its way to becoming a recognized mental illness. I’m sure most readers out there can think of at least one person they know who spends a majority of their waking hours playing WoW. If avatar interactions become more real, more visceral, and draw the player into the game that much more, what will happen to our cozy little society? Will game boxes come with Surgeon General’s warnings and photos of obese, Cheetoh stained teens with “This could happen to you” written above it? Going further in time, will some sort of legal unions between players and NPCs come into the fold?
How bout we look in the opposite direction, towards optimism. Will something like Ted Chiang’s “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” be our future? Can digital “beings” have any sort of legal status? Will the sun be tried for genocide should it knock out our power grids with a flare?
I’m hesitant to muse any more because this is such a rich idea and I would much prefer to see what you all come up with. Go forth, and tell your pixelwife that you love her.