When you get invited to an event to play games and talk about the history, development and future of games, you turn up. The other day, I was lucky enough to meet and hang out with some of London’s games bloggers/writers, not to mention Adam Griffin from Dell UK and Michael O’Dell of Team-Dignitas. The purpose of the event? Well, Dell will soon be releasing some new hardware — the Alienware M11x — and aside from that they’re seriously looking into 3D gaming options for hardcore gamers. Discussion, gaming, pontificating, and a little bit of furious ‘let’s just agree to disagree’ ensued.
After poking around and playing Flatout Ultimate Carnage viewed on the Alienware OptXTM AW2310 3D monitor, it was clear for everyone to see that this next year will be inundated with everything 3D. Pubs are now showing football matches in 3D and there will be more 3D films released in 2010 than any year previous. All fingers point to people simply wanting more of the multi-dimension action right up in their faces. But, what makes this viewing experience so different and more appealing than what we already have?
Playing the game on that monitor was really quite unbelievable; in a very good way, I might add. Despite the glasses being rather heavy for my teeny head, the game-play was phenomenal. Forget about the usual things flying at you from within the screen and forget about being able to stick your hand out and ‘touch’ the protruding people or objects. The reason this works so well is in its immersion factor. Instead of it appearing like the objects on the screen are coming towards you, you get much more of a sense of you being thrown into the action. A view also shared on the evening by Luke Westaway of Electric Spectre. It was really quite a special feeling to actually think you were driving the car and actually hitting the objects in your path as they slid underneath and by you.
If we’re now looking to become more like a Neal Stephenson novel and immerse ourselves into our digital surroundings, we’re surely getting there faster than we might have thought. A large part of the discussion was based on the very typical PC versus Console debate — and, more to the point, which offers you a more desirable gaming experience, based either on graphics or immersion. Unsurprisingly, the Wii dominated the conversation with its wireless controller allowing for more inter-personal play. But, that was a whole five years ago and Nintendo haven’t progressed very far with their releases or with their re-released titles. The Nintendo fans (me included) go back to the console for the old franchises — not the new ones. Gameplay on the Wii has not changed very much since its launch and the graphics still leave a lot to be desired. It seems to have turned into a machine for the casual gamer, much to my dismay.
Given the room was full of hardcore gamers, the PC won hands down. Graphics, sociability and general first-person game-play were preferred. But, there was an interesting discussion that sparked up when people were asked what their favourite console was. Most opted for the X-Box 360, with few choosing the Wii and even fewer choosing the PS3. I found this incredibly hard to swallow at first. Playstation have practically dominated the console scene for years on end and yet these people preferred the X-Box 360?
Upon further analysis, it became very clear why. Microsoft’s little toy was simply cheaper for people to buy (not when it first came out, mind). The gamers in the room bought it mostly because of cost effectiveness. However, after further probing, the X-Box 360 had other benefits also. Despite the Wii doing wonders for one’s social scene offline, not very many people have used it online. Is that because we’re all waiting for our friends to buy one so we can play them online? Who knows, but that was the consensus. Moreover, The X-Boxes were commended for their online social life and the ease of which you could play others — not to mention graphics. A lot of the gamers weren’t that bothered by the PS3 or its releases.
The offline/online discussion will always be of interest to me and I could go into it for hours, but we’re definitely all living more of an Avatar-esque life than we’d perhaps like to admit. More people are looking for ‘another world’ to be part of, and perhaps be better in, and the more realistic it gets, the better, it seems. We surely want to eat, touch, sleep and fight in an environment that allows for better absorption of your environment, using as many of our senses as we can.
Finally, to aid all of this in a more portable sense, Dell was more than happy to let us try out and play on their new baby: the Alienware M11x. She’s sleek, smaller (a 11 inch 720p screen), lighter and just as powerful as her bigger counterparts (the M15x and M17x), boasting regular battery life of around 6.5 hours for non-gaming tasks and around 2 hours for intensive gaming. Also the Alienware M11x features a HDMI port to enable you to connect it up to your HDTV and play your games on your big screen in gorgeous 720p high definition.
Thank you Dell. I’m so very glad we could all share our thoughts about Alienware. It’s made the future of gaming a much brighter place. What do you think 2010 will do for 3D gaming?