I love seeing the way movies and games interpret the future. Everybody’s got their own idea of what the future will look like. There are the theorists predicting what will happen to the human race, where we will go, what our source of extinction will be… but the ones who ultimately decide what these things will look like in the entertainment industry is the concept developers. They are the ones who decide how the current events of the future might affect the look of buildings and how design taste might change and how things may have been altered to be more efficient and things like that… I find it all very fascinating (I would love to have that job).
So making a beautiful concept for a futuristic landscape is one thing. Actually building maps in a video game and making that environment livable is another. That had me thinking, what futuristic concepts would I most want to really live in? Which of the futures (regardless of their prettiness or awesome design) would actually make a good home? I will analyze this question with a few examples…
The future-set game that first comes to mind is Mass Effect. Although I love the game and I think its story, characters, species, habitats, and theories are brilliant, I would not at all want to actually be a part of that world…
I would probably be living on the Citadel, which is a giant spaceship-turned-city floating out somewhere in space. It seems super crowded there, and none of its residents appear to be happy. The government seems a bit too intrusive, not to mention the threat of human extinction by the reapers! Also, the design is very drab and uninteresting, and there’s never good sunlight because there is no atmosphere! Whatever star is hitting the Citadel just beams annoyingly at your face without a nice warm color. It would be a very depressing setting. It would be just terrible to live in this world.
On the other hand, the near-future cityscape of Mirror’s Edge is very appealing. It is sleek, modern, and yet warm because of all the sunlight. The government issues in that game, I’m not so sure about… but as for the design of the city, I would like.
It is a popular idea for games to involve dystopian views of the future – or bleak views. Like, where a third world war turned nuclear, and now vegetation is scarce and people live underground, or like where a nation takes over the majority of the world and citizens must live under a surppressive dictator, or like when humans have fully stripped the Earth of its resources… Whatever the cause of the bleakness, that kind of environment has shown up in games like Fallout, Killzone, Half-Life 2, etc. It’s a popular idea in movies as well – like in WALL-E and the Matrix… Needless to say, those futures are the ones I would least like to live in. Fallout was a miserable game, I was scared the whole time, I’d hate for that to be my life.
The main reason a lot of games are set in the future is because our ideas of the future lends to the creativity of game design. Usually, the conceptors are not primarily focused on creating a world we would want to live in as much as a compelling one.
If any readers have any thoughts on this subject, I encourage you to comment.