For PC Gaming Week, Kotaku has invited top creators to predict the future of computer gaming. First up, Mark Skaggs, the man at social gaming juggernaut Zynga who led the creation of arguably the hottest PC game going: FarmVille.
As I'm inching closer to two decades in the gaming business, I've witnessed quite a few changes. The world of PC gaming is arguably in the middle of a fundamental shift. With the introduction of social and digital delivery, mobile and user-generated content, it's an exciting time for anyone involved in the industry.
While no one knows where gaming will lead us five years from now, I do have a few predictions:
1) We're going to live in a world where games move with you. Mobility is key - everyone is taking their PCs with them in the form of laptops and on tablets. Games are playable across multiple devices and instantly accessible, leaving downloads and delays in the dust. While some players will be looking for a way to spend five quick minutes between classes, others will be playing their favorite game waiting for a business meeting to start. Other players will turn to gaming for the entertainment that immerses one in an alternative life — similar to what some players experience in various games today.
2) Game play will continue to change to the point where every game has social built into its core. Any game that does not have a strong social component will seem as old fashioned as a joystick with a single shooter. New social game mechanics will become the social bonding agent that brings more people together in meaningful ways. The future may also bring a new form of digital family board game night. Why play Monopoly with your Mom and Dad, when you can play a game with your entire extended family across the world, at any time?
3) Finally, I think we're going to start seeing the initial inklings of adaptive game experiences. Games are getting smart — and eventually systems, along with the management software, will monitor a player's progress and adapt game play difficulty, mechanics and experience accordingly. For example, if a player has a difficult time getting past a level or mastering a skill the game will auto-adapt to help a player excel. This type of experience may also automatically serve up new game suggestions to help players find games that match their taste and style.
Suffice to say, I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to the future of games. I'm also looking forward to break-through moments in tech, game mechanics and art that will come unpredictably from the minds of game-making geniuses around the world.
Mark Skaggs is an award winning game developer and 17-year games industry veteran most recently known for creating the world-wide phenomenon FarmVille for Zynga. He previously worked at EA where he oversaw development of several Command & Conquer games. He is currently vice president of product development at Zynga.