Interview With Victor Zordan, Expert In Video Game Technology
I had the opportunity to talk with Victor Zordan, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at The University of California, Riverside. Zordan is an expert on video game technology and interfaces, computer graphics, motion-capture technology and 3D animation and special effects.
We discussed the current innovations in, and the future of, motion-capture and animation technology, motion and neural interfaces, photorealistic graphics, PC and console gaming, and 3D holographic games.
Read the full interview, below.
GameFront: What are your thoughts on PC gaming and where it’s headed, relative to console gaming?
Consoles will be mainstays; they’ll continue to be like appliances. You buy them, you push one button, and they’re good to go. There’s a whole class of people who don’t want the overhead of installing a game on their PC, and those people are never going to switch over.
There will always be a market for the game console. But it may end up moving to more of a family-oriented market. I don’t think game consoles will go away completely, but as people are interacting through their computers more often, technologies will continue to evolve to allow users to play games more seamlessly, through the web, and more and more people will be playing PC games. It may not be the type of PC games we imagine, from, say, PC Gamer magazine, but it’s nonetheless going to be a growing commercial area.
GF: Regarding interfaces like the Kinect, where do you think we’ll be 5 years from now? 10?
I think we’ve just seen the beginning. In 5 years, we’ll be doing many other interesting things with motion interfaces — not even just playing games. They will be the natural way to do a lot of different activities. More and more people of diverse backgrounds and ages will be able to interact because it’s a very natural way to do so. We’re going to see more people interacting who haven’t traditionally been labeled as “gamers.” This is already happening with the Wii, and it will continue.
In 10 years, we may have moved beyond motion interfaces. I have a prototype headset that is a direct brain interface; it’s in its infancy, but it’s being used for games. We’re developing our own first applications on these direct brain tools. They are essentially headsets with sensors on them that directly measure the brain activity, which is transformed into commands for the game.
As this technology matures, we may no longer use our body as an interface; we may just use the brain and directly control the game with our thoughts. It’s a distinct possibility, and it could have some interesting ramifications.
For instance, imagine that these interfaces could eventually become mandatory for driving. We can have the brain interface alert the people around us that we’re going to break sooner than we can alert them by pushing our foot against the pedal. Every time I put on my seatbelt, I wonder if I’ll one day also have to put on a headset. Will I have to make the car read my brain to turn the car on? Is it going to be beeping because it can’t read my brain?
GF: How far away are we from replacing a keyboard and mouse, or a gamepad, with a neural interface?
Off the top of my head, I’ll say 10 years. I think we’re seeing the end of keyboard and mouse with touch screens — with iPads, with the phones we have. But I’m not sure the keyboard and mouse will ever go away — I was just talking to you on a phone with a cord. It’s still here. Is it outdated? Has it been replaced? By some definitions, yes — except it’s still on my desk.