Videogames of the Future, as Predicted 25 Years Ago

My friend Miss Fipi Lele sent me a scan from The Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games, a children’s book published in 1982:

Excerpt from “Videogames of the Future” a section in “The Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games” (1982)
Image courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

I was quite impressed with how many predictions the book got right. Here are some excerpts from the “Videogames in the future” section of the book, followed by examples of the predictions coming true.

Here’s what the Guide had to say about “TV games” in which you can take part in battles. Remember, this was published when the Atari 2600 (which was still called the Atari VCS — short for “Video Computer System”) and the Mattel Intellivision were established consoles and the Colecovision had just been released:

Historical battle game as depicted in the “The Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games”.
A TV game with a very large memory will be able to reconstruct detailed pictures of say, the Battle of Waterloo or a space battle, and the players will be able to control far more of the details in the picture than they can today.

Score one point for the Guide. Although the game History Channel: Civil War got poor ratings, it fulfills the prediction. Here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot from the game “History Channel: Civil War”

Here’s the Guide on sports games:

Soccer game as depicted in the “The Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games”.
In TV sports games you will probably be able to control each of your team members individually. These games will also have electronically synthesized voices and the referee will tell you when you are offside or given a free kick.

Score another point for the Guide. Here’s FIFA Soccer 2008:

Screen capture from “FIFA Soccer 08″.

The Guide has this to say about multiplayer games:

At present, most computer games are for only one or two players. More powerful computers though, will be able to cope with instructions from a number of people playing at the same time, either as teams against each other, or against the computer.

Another point for the guide! Case in point: a video of gameplay from the Halo 3 multiplayer beta…

Video duration: 9 minutes, 48 seconds.

And finally, here’s what the Guide predicts for handheld games:

Soccer game as depicted in the “The Usborne Guide to Computer and Video Games”.
Hand-held electronic games will still have liquid-crystal displays, but they will probably be in full colour and will be as detailed and realistic as pictures for a TV programme today.

Yet another point for the Guide: here’s Burnout Dominator for the PSP…

Screenshot of “Burnout Dominator” on the PSP

Late-Breaking Update

Serves me right for not Googling first: the Level Up blog at Sun has a complete set of scans of the book. Check it out!

5 replies on “Videogames of the Future, as Predicted 25 Years Ago”

It’s a hoot that the IT braintrust of 25 years ago “got” some significant aspects of future gaming, but the IT braintrust of 12 years ago went waaay off the rails with their predictions of the VR-centric 3D Internet of Tomorrow.

To be fair Chris, Virtual Reality was THE buzz technology and savior of computing 12 years ago. I can see why that would have happened. I am pretty shocked at how accurate the scans of this page are with what’s happened in gaming though. At the time this was written, it was hard enough to get a pixel square and a BEEP sound to show up at the same time.

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