In an age when it seems wildly inventive innovations explode onto the scene on a nearly daily basis, it’s almost overbearingly difficult to determine what the future of gaming may hold. Online game streaming services may have had their reputation as a viable medium for gaming marred by Google Stadia, but the just publicly released Nvidia GeForce Now is seemingly winning over the fans (including this very writer) that may have scoffed at Stadia. In truth, both are wildly impressive technological feat, a descriptor that could be leveled at countless of the latest gaming innovations, but barely a percent of those creations may ever burst into the public’s eye. It’s most certainly a competitive playing field, a statement that should little doubt to be true.
However, amidst all of this, one PlayStation 4 exclusive from Media Molecule titled Dreams quietly released several weeks ago and has already developed a passionate, if albeit niche, community. Dreams offers players the chance to create their very own games using the studio’s proprietary engine. Just from a DualShock 4 controller, newcomers are able to select from three very distinct control modes, allowing for a comfortable variety to settle into. Since its February 14th release date, Dreams has single-handedly spawned some of the most jaw-dropping interactive projects in recent memory, including fully-fledged remakes and strange images of a developer’s English breakfast.
It’s ultimately titles like Dreams that may single-handedly overcome the future. It is becoming clear that professional, triple-A development may soon be drawing to a close as studios’ titles continue to increase exponentially in their computing demands, something that most consumers just can’t afford to keep up with. Such drastic changes are already being seen today, from Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC to the recently announced PC specs of Doom Eternal. The “PC master race” is nearly dead, and I believe consoles would be quick to follow. However, just like an endless bucket of LEGOs, Dreams offers the industry to subvert that dreadful outcome. It encourages players to make their own projects, their own experiences, their own dreams. When professional game engines like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity may be too daunting and block programming-based software like Scratch too childish, Dreams is the perfect medium between the two extremes.
That isn’t to say that something like Dreams hasn’t been conceived before; it most certainly has, most notably in Mojang’s still bestselling hit block phenomenon Minecraft. Do any of you see where I am going with this? The only way for the industry to keep with what players want to see in their games is to put the control of what games are made into the players’ hands, quite literally. Blazing graphical achievements are coming to a fever-pitch, and the differences between generations may not be discernible for the normal eye. Thus, the time is past to rely on raw mechanical bestiary to wow the media and public. The gaming industry needs to return to what it once was. An unprecedented medium for offering artists the greatest liberality to do whatever they dream of. Dreams may just be one of the first steps in such a transition, but it most surely will not be the last.