Watch Richard Lemarchand explore the future of games

In a brilliant talk from Gamelab, the former Naughty Dog designer paints a vivid picture of where we're heading

The day that Richard Lemarchand chose to swap his illustrious career in game development for one as a professor of interactive media and game design was a dark one for us journalists. Enthusiastic, witty, intelligent and as honest as one could reasonably expect from a senior employee of Naughty Dog, Lemarchand was never less than a pleasure to interview. The students of the University of Southern California are lucky to have him for a teacher.

But while we may not see many more commercially released games from Lemarchand, we can all take comfort from the abandon with which he has thrown himself into the games industry's crowded events schedule. His most recent talk, at Barcelona's Gamelab conference, was a fine example of why: a wide-ranging appraisal of where games are going, both technically and artistically, that managed to balance hard facts, cutting edge theory and actual entertainment value - not always in abundance at the average industry conference.

"Everyday, it seems like science fiction becomes science fact all the time," Lemarchand said as he opened his talk. "In the world of video games this same magic is happening every year, as the things that we game developers, commentators and fans could only dream of 20 years ago come to life on our screens, through our speakers, and in our hands."

What does that look like? Watch the video and see for yourself...

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Latest comments (5)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
20 years ago:
Street Fighter 2 Turbo , Mortal Kombat, UFO - Enemy unknown, Need for Speed, Final Fantasy 6, Warcraft, you get the picture.

I fear the bright future a video games in 20 years is a bit like the bright future of the year 2014 imagined in some old sci-fi movies. Better graphics for sure, basically the same game, but nowhere near the fiction of old.
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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.3 years ago
A great lecture. One thing he says that is particularly worth thinking about is the over 50s market. 85% of the world's wealth is owned by baby-boomers who are now all over 50.
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David Serrano Freelancer 3 years ago
Now, in the world of video games the same magic is happening every year as the things that we game developers, commentators and fans could only dream of 20 years ago come to life on our screens, through our speakers and in our hands.
Richard seems like a great guy but, do modern video and computer games or game technology truly embody "the things" we dreamed about 20 years ago? I honestly don't think so.

Yes, game technology and hardware, the technical quality and production values of games have obviously advanced over the past 20 years. But video and computer games in all of their different forms are still by and large, firmly rooted in the past. Ralph Koster explained why in A Theory of Fun:
Basically, game designers suffer from what I call "designeritis." They are hypersensitive to patterns in games. They grok them very readily and move on. They see past fiction very easily. They build up encyclopedic recollections of games past and present, and they then theoretically use these to make new games. But they usually don't make new games because their very experience, their very library of assumptions, holds them back. Remember what the brain is doing with these chunks it builds--it is trying to create a generically applicable library of solutions. The more solutions you have stored up, the less likely you are to go chasing after a new one. The result has been, as you would expect, a lot of derivative work.
So I don't think we'll see the types games we once dreamed about playing until we first see fundamental and radical changes in the underlying design orthodoxy - philosophy.
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Show all comments (5)
20 years ago. Madden and NHLPA Hockey on consoles and FPS on PC, ruled, how times have changed. LOL

anyway, the future of games is staring us right in the face. Just look at VR tech from the likes of Occulus, and Procedural design such as that being used in No Mans Sky. To me those are the two game features that have me the most excited about the future of games.

We have been in a dry spell for the last decade, its time for a nice leap forward.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 22nd July 2014 6:02pm

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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer 3 years ago
Let's not ignore the consumer's role in the game development process, since they occupy the really critical portion of any game, moreso than great design, moreso than QA. The "sales" portion. The point at which the game has ceased to be a project and had become a product. Koster may think designers have "designeritis" and are hewing to a conservative orthodoxy of their own creation, but the consumer base is probably more conservative than that. Why is it Call of Duty is sequelized to the point where adding Kevin Spacey is trumpeted as a feature and makes stupid bank, but SpecOps: The Line doesn't merit a sequel based off the underperforming sales despite critical acclaim and a slowly growing cult fanbase?

Great leaps forward are not necessarily how games advance in terms of design. A lot of it is iterative, and it iterates so slowly that we think it's not going anywhere. But when you look back, there have been a lot of "radical" ideas that eventually did make it to the big time. Yes, we need people willing to risk their necks, and their companies, doing daring and exciting things. They will likely fail, either in their execution or in the sales numbers when consumers collectively say, "I don't get it." But those failures happening today will be touted as successes tomorrow.
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