Charles Stross on the future of gaming

Paul Raven @ 14-05-2009

Star Wars MMO game screenshotThe Zeitgeist strikes again – it appears that this week is going to throw up lots of stuff about computer gaming. Here’s a counterpoint to Sven’s dispatch; a transcript of a keynote speech that Charlie Stross gave to the LOGIN 2009 games industry conference yesterday.

In the next five years we can expect semiconductor development to proceed much as it has in the previous five years: there’s at least one more generation of miniaturization to go in chip fabrication, and that’s going to feed our expectations of diminishing power consumption and increasing performance for a few years. There may well be signs of a next-generation console war. And so on. This isn’t news.

One factor that’s going to come into play is the increasing cost of semiconductor fab lines. As the resolution of a lithography process gets finer, the cost of setting up a fab line increases — and it’s not a linear relationship. A 22nm line is going to cost a lot more than a 33nm line, or a 45nm one. It’s the dark shadow of Moore’s Law: the cost per transistor on a chip may be falling exponentially, but the fabs that spit them out are growing pricier by a similar ratio.

Something like this happened, historically, in the development of the aerospace industry. Over the past thirty years, we’ve grown used to thinking of the civil aerospace industry as a mature and predictable field, dominated by two huge multinationals and protected by prohibitive costs of entry. But it wasn’t always so.

Go read the whole thing; Stross swiftly and plausibly draws a line from the present to the future two decades hence, a future where the audience demographics for gaming have shifted to include the vast majority of the population, and the technology platforms that games run on are small, portable and ubiquitous. [image by st3f4n]

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One Response to “Charles Stross on the future of gaming”

  1. Odin Khriswill says:

    I don’t know if I would have read this if there wasn’t a picture of a Rodian in Star Wars Galaxies on it. I’m glad it drew me in 😛