One of the joys of a blog is even though there is a theme to it.. Occasionally the author / owner can write about something completely off topic that interests them. This post is one of those times and today’s crazy off topic conversation is about next generation video gaming.
There is a general rule in tech that music formats change every 20 years or so.. from the player piano sheets to the vinyl record, to the LP, to the Cassette tape, to the CD, to MP3 and now to streaming. Each one of these format changes brought about a paradigm shift in how we consume music.. from “you don’t even need to know how to play the piano” to “1000 songs in your pocket” to “create a station”. Because the trend was towards higher resolution music in the past, the music format makers thought that it would be higher resolution music in the future.. and they were completely wrong. The argument wasn’t SACD vs DVD-Audio, it was closed physical vs. open digital.
In a recent episode of Kinda Funny Games there was a discussion of true next gen games which was the inspiration for this post. Collin came closest to reaching the conclusion that I came too.. his argument was that true next generation gaming doesn’t really exist because everything in the console space is built off of something before. I think true next generation gaming is not tied to the next generation of consoles.
Ok, pause for a second.. for those of you who don’t play video games and read this blog, let me take a moment to explain something. Between every 3-6 years console makers make new video game consoles.. which is pretty much a requirement due to the ever advancing nature of computer technology which these consoles are build on. The industry always refers to these consoles as “Next-Gen” standing for next generation and these consoles are always supposed to herald in new paradigms in computer gaming. This is the gaming equivalent of higher resolution music, generation after generation.
In several generations the console based video game landscape included many of the touchstones of next generation gaming. These are big broad changes that are still being felt. They include storytelling as part of video games, 3-D graphics and expansive worlds, online play and the online communities, and motion gaming (Wii, Kinect, Rock Band). Right now the console guys are hanging their hat on VR and AR respectively. The music equivalent is records to LP.. You go from a singles mentality to larger compositional album focused mentality.
I writing this today because I think they – the Kinda Funny Guys – got it wrong. I think next gen gaming is here already and it’s nothing like what was promised with the launch of the new platforms. Next Gen gaming is Flappy Bird and Free to Play on smartphones. I say this with a heavy heart because i’m a technology guy.. I always get all the consoles.. and I always play them. I love the promise of higher resolution graphics and broader more expansive gaming environments. If this were music I’d be (and I did) proselytizing SACD and DVD-Audio. But the world wants throwaway convenience. They want MP3’s. Quality be damned. With video gaming the world decided they wanted highly convenient handheld gaming. Consoles won’t go away, in the same way that Radio didn’t leave the scene as TV entered it’s just that the industry and financial focus will be towards mobile leaving less of the thing that I enjoy. The quality of original programing died on radio, but it still exists as a shadow of what it was in it’s hayday.
In the process of writing this post I started reflecting on this blog… I know there is a connection between the ideology of modern business, the Professional Individual Contributor and the ever present yet mostly unrealized promise of next-gen gaming. I just haven’t make the connection yet.. are we just a service to be used heavily when needed and then ignored? Are we throwaway media like ring tones and horse armor? I don’t quite know..
I do know that for companies investing in your people for the longer term and doing everything to empower them and keep them around doesn’t exist anymore. You hear companies talk about how much they value their people, but more often than not it’s just unrealized hype that doesn’t really exist. In that way it is allot like the promises that come with the ever approaching next-gen game console.
Hey, maybe there is a connection between music, video games, and our jobs.. just not the connection we’d like it to be.