When you watch a really good play, you forget you are watching one. The audience disappears, all you can see are the actors on the stage. All you can hear are their lines and the ambiance. All of the hard work of changing the outfits, lifting people on ropes, moving the set pieces disappear, the only dissonance is during intermission when the light bulbs slowly burn back into brightness.
This is also how I feel about video games. The good ones make you forget about everything else in the room. The mechanics, controller, story all blend seamlessly into one experience. The key to an exciting next-gen for me is not 8gb of gddr5 ram or even a 16 core processor, its peeling back the extraneous layers with each console iteration to help me become more immersed in the world.
I have this bad feeling that the problems Ninty's having this gen with the Wii U are indicative of a larger apathy among the entire industry. The low launch sales, the struggle to release high quality products more than once a generation is becoming increasingly difficult.
I am becoming less and less excited about this upcoming gen of consoles. I grew up with an NES. The jump to the SNES was great for a couple of reasons. Bigger worlds to explore, pseudo 3d games like Starfox and F-Zero, and a little bit better story representation from sprite manipulation in rpgs and other games.
From the SNES/Genesis to the PS1/N64 was incredible. 3d worlds! Voiceovers! Physics! This was an exciting gen to be a part of. It felt like we had been watching spotlight silhouettes of actors on a stage and the curtain had finally been pulled.
The following gen mostly had a graphics bump and better FMV's (remember those?). It had better production values, just not really a better play.
This current gen we hit a pretty weird shift, where Nintendo really broke away to try and distinct themselves from being too similar to Sony and MS. We had motion controls, that was pretty novel and sometimes fun. The big part of this gen is the attachment of other services like Hulu, Netflix, voice chat, and in general, online connectivity.
So far, it seems like the newest gen of consoles are enhancing the "other" services. PS has a little Facebook / Youtube sharing thing going on. MS might announce something akin to a cable box with kinect 2 attached. The Wii U is trying to slap tablet gamers in the face and say "Hey, gaming on that isn't as good as this", and they are probably right. But people just don't care when there isn't that much to distinguish it from the Wii.
I think PS4 and NextBox will have that same problem. What really differentiates these consoles from the current ones? Enhanced social features? Better graphics?
I don't feel like there is anything behind the curtain with these new consoles, its making me far less excited for each new iteration of consoles. That said, there is one thing that might be a game changer
The Oculus Rift.
A new way to experience games is what we truly crave right? We love Hyrule, Doom, Final Fantasy and many other worlds and characters. Each big jump in the consoles has led us into a new space where we could interact with these worlds and characters in more believable and detailed ways. I haven't put a headset on, but seeing some of the reactions on Youtube lead me to believe its pretty mind blowing. I don't see anyone picking up a 360 or dualshock controller and throwing their head around with their mouths open going "oh...my....god...".
This little girl and then a 90 year old grandma give me hope for the future of gaming. I felt just like that 8 year old girl when I was playing the original Legend of Zelda.
Oculus Rift and 8 years old girl (via artyom17)
My 90 year old grandmother tries the Oculus Rift. (via Paul Rivot)
I really think the whole show from the big 3 is getting really stale.
Of course these are my personal opinions and I may suffer from Nostradumusitis. I am curious to see if I am getting close to the pulse or a jaded upper 20's dude. Are you excited or apathetic?