It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but if you can learn from mistakes you haven’t made yet, then surely you’d become invincible. That’s logic. With that in mind, here are the ten most important lessons videogames have taught us about the future. Read them well. They could be the difference between living a long, healthy life and being vaporised by evil aliens.
Feel free to add your own in the comments at the bottom of the page. (NB. Reading this article doesn’t guarantee you won’t be vaporised by evil aliens, so don’t sue us if that happens.)
10. Sport will be violent and involve a lot more sliding (Speedball 2)
Two things we can be sure of: in the future, sport will revolve around extreme violence and knee pads. Sturdy, sturdy knee pads. Franchises with monikers linked to the town or city in which they are based will be replaced by epithets that describe the style of play of each team. Brutal Deluxe, Violent Desire, Garotting Strangers. One of those is made up. The main tactic will be crippling the other team’s goalkeeper, allowing a large metal ball to be thrown into the empty space. Also of note, when future sports make the move into three dimensions, they stop being as good.
9. Scientific research will be furthered via the medium of puzzles (Portal)
It’s not all sitting around in laboratories, pushing buttons and mixing bubbling chemicals in a vat. Scientific progress in the future will often be governed by the dexterity and lateral thinking of test subjects trapped like rats in puzzling, portal-based mazes. Science will also become much funnier than it is now, with megalomaniacal supercomputers becoming the norm. The love of a human for an inanimate object will remain taboo. though.
8. The diplomacy vs. a shotgun blast to the face argument will rage on (Mass Effect)
Choices, choices, choices. The morality of the future, as with the morality of today, can be distilled into a simple sentence: hit them in the face with the butt of your laser rifle or leave them be. There may be far-reaching consequences. People may – nominally, at least – die because of your actions, but in the end it’s about being a dick or not being a dick. And you can always go back and play the game again if you get too upset at the way things work out. Or want to hit more people with the butt of your laser rifle.
7. If you lose contact with a space ship, leave it that way (Dead Space)
It’s the old haunted house riff, only played from a lot further away. There’s a reason no one’s answering the space phone, why there’s no lights on and the whole place looks as though someone left the lid off the space blender when they were making tomato soup. Space tomato soup. If a ship drops off radar, it’s best to let it float around in the vast unknown recesses of the universe. Going to save them will only lead to mutant baby things trying to bite your face off.
6. Running guns to a peaceful planet to make profit will be frowned upon (Elite)
Even in the future, making profit from the suffering of millions is considered, at best, a faux pas and, at worst, cause enough for the intergalactic police to blast your wireframe 3D spaceship into bits. Sure, you could have taken food or supplies or any number of other boring items, but nothing quite sets the pulse racing like filling your cargo hold with illicit firearms and shuttling them off to a weaponless world to spark a civil war.
5. War will become peppered with cod philosophy and introversion (Metal Gear Solid 4)
In the near future, war will be the preserve of gravelly voiced men with shards of black ice for hearts, appalling facial hair and a penchant for waxing lyrical about the way their job dehumanises them. Not only will they take time off from the slaughter and madness of the battlefield to recite soliloquies and engage in meta discussions about war and the contextualization of conflict, they’ll also take great pains to confuse the hell out of anyone who hasn’t been paying attention for four whole games.
4. Faceless corporations will take over the world (Syndicate)
A lot of people will tell you that this has already happened, but I don’t see teams of black clad operatives walking around with heavy weaponry, gunning down insurrectionists and competitors, do you? Once cities have become isometric and grid based, then it’s time to start worrying. If you see anyone marshalling troops or trying to get ahead in our capitalist society, you should keep a close eye on them. It’ll only be a matter of time before they’re sending goons out to brainwash you into slavish obedience.
3. Only those with strong neck muscles will survive (Gears of War)
In the face of certain death, surrounded by insurmountable odds, it won’t be a helmet, or body armour, or even the unfeasibly perma-fuelled chainsaw gaffer taped to the end of your gun that will determine if you live or die. It’ll be whether or not your neck is as wide as your head. Not only do Delta Squad walk away from a helicopter that crashes directly into the mouth of a giant worm, they then proceed to make their way through its intestines, cut out its hearts and escape before drowning in blood or burning in stomach acid. How? Unbelievably proportioned Scalene and Sternocleidomastoid muscles is the only logical explanation.
2. If and when we do meet aliens, they’ll have motives allegorical to modern day threats (Halo)
We’re often told that terrorists are hell bent on destroying Western civilization. In the far future, those terrorists will be replaced with aliens, and it won’t be just Western civilization they’re after, oh no. It’ll be all of human civilization. Which, by then, will be surprisingly westernised. Their reasoning? An over zealous reading of ancient mythology and crazed leaders hell bent on the eradication of anything that won’t bend to their tyrannical will. Some things never change…
1. The vast majority of us will end up dead (Most games)
Humanity will always be caught unawares by an alien threat, or an attack from within, or a comet, a meteor, a new disease, an angry midget with a big gun and a taste for human flesh. The single defining thread that runs through the vast majority of science fiction videogames is the lackadaisical attitude the human race of the future will have towards self defence. “Oh, we didn’t realise that an entire race of subterranean, scale faced mentalists had been dwelling beneath our feet the whole time we’d been living here. Blargh. We are dead.” To be honest, with that sort of attitude, you all deserved it, stupid future people.
Add your own suggestions below…!