Local innovators imagine the future of video games in Austin

"Infinite Resolution Zero Latency" brings together designers, theorists, and technologists to discuss, play games

Watch a video with highlights from the gaming event above or on TACC's YouTube Channel.

Imagining and describing the future of video games, 11 local luminaries engaged members of the Austin, game developer community on Jan. 25 at the Applied Computational Engineering and Sciences (ACES) building on The University of Texas main campus.

Organized by the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), the Austin chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), and the UT Computer Science department, the event educated the public about the growing potential of gaming technology in Austin.

"The goal was to bring together the key players in the gaming industry, the UT community and TACC," Rob Turknett, TACC Digital Media, Arts and Humanities Coordinator, said. "We hope that these conversations will lead to future collaborations between the university, TACC and the gaming industry."

During the first part of the event, speakers voiced their vision of the unfolding future of the gaming industry. Afterward, all 175 participants were invited to play a variety of video games β€” many of them created in Austin β€”on the high-resolution screens in the TACC Visualization Laboratory (Vislab).

Computation rests at the core of gaming. Today's video games involve advanced computation and graphics processing that constantly expand the perimeters of what a computer can do.

"TACC has a lot of expertise and technology that crosses over with the needs of the gaming industry," Turknett said. "As leaders in advanced computing and visualization, we feel like there is an opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship with the industry here in Austin."

At the end of the night, John Henderson, IGDA Austin Chapter Secretary, shared his appreciation of the speakers' diverse speculations about the future of gaming.

"The future is one of those topics where you could talk about it and not be wrong," Henderson said. "Everyone had a different answer, but everyone had some perspective which they said rather passionately."

Below are a few of the perspectives presented at the event:

Jay Boisseau, Director, Texas Advanced Computing Center

  • Boisseau explained that TACC is an advanced computing center that offers high-end displays, visualization systems and supercomputing power to impact science, as well as the arts and humanities.
  • All technologies have a potential complementary role in gaming.
  • The TACC Visualization Lab offers high-resolution and tiled displays which were used to display video games and game art at the event.

Donald Fussell, Professor, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Computer Science

  • Fussell is most interested in the time that it takes to develop games.
  • He said that the future of games will be impacted by how hard they are to build, so making it easier to create video games will be best thing we can do.
  • Fussell envisions building a much richer virtual world in much less time and much less work in the future.

Jon Jones, Art Producer/Outsourcing Manager, Smartist LLC

  • Jones sees more freelance, free agencies and more freedom emerging in the field of video game production.
  • He predicts a rise in contract studios hired on a project-by-project basis while working with several clients in parallel.
  • He sees an increase in boutique and contract art production and design houses working within a cooperative network for game production.

Bruce Pennycook, Professor, The University of Texas at Austin, Radio, Television and Film & Butler School of Music

  • Pennycook believes that the future includes a more mediated play method where the software and system knows about the human experience and relates to how the players moves, sees and hears.
  • He is working on music software that will listen to a musician and play along with him/her according to the player's method and style.

John McDonald, Senior Software Engineer, NVIDIA

  • McDonald analyzed the future of gaming through its history.
  • He described how revenue in game industry has increased over the last 15 years, and predicted games will continue to prosper.

Mike McShaffery, Director of Product Development, Red Fly Studio

  • McShaffery said the future in games rests in mobile electronic devices like smartphones. This will democratize game development since it is easier to create a game application for smartphones.
  • Success will follow content, so making one game and getting the word out will increase the likelihood of achieving that success.

Karen Ngo, Event Programming and Marketing, SXSW Interactive ScreenBurn Conference

  • Ngo is excited about the merging of non-traditional areas, like health and education, with future video games.
  • She is interested in hybrid forms such as gesture-based connections, voice commands and social, mobile and geographic space.
  • Ngo focuses most of her attention on games that will benefit society.

Dan Magaha, Director & Executive Producer, Seamless Entertainment Studio

  • Smaller game development teams now have capabilities such as publishing their own games, selling games at low prices, accessing powerful development tools.
  • Magaha thinks that these factors will lead smaller teams to create focused, polished, well-developed games in the future.

Dan Teasdale, Lead Designer, Twisted Pixel

  • Teasdale believes most developers already have the skill set required to develop the next generation of games since they have been designing content for varying consoles.
  • He expects the coming years to be a golden age for game development in Austin.

Lenard Swain, Alienware Partner Management Senior Advisor, Dell Inc.

  • Swain said that the future of games is about immersive technology, with significant advances in audio, virtual reality and motion-tracking/gesture interactions.
  • He believes that in the future, consumers will be involved earlier in the development stages to guide designs with more influence on storylines, characters and where the game goes.

Greg Zeschuk, Vice President/General Manager, Electronic Arts/Bioware Austin

  • Zeschuk explained that Austin has a long history of people making connected games.
  • He looked further down the road to games that can be played anywhere on any device without having to physically touch a controller.
  • He believes that this new virtual aspect will lead to less differentiation between mobile and platform versions.

Aaron Dubrow, Science and Technology Writer
February 22, 2012

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The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the leading centers of computational excellence in the United States. The center's mission is to enable discoveries that advance science and society through the application of advanced computing technologies. To fulfill this mission, TACC identifies, evaluates, deploys, and supports powerful computing, visualization, and storage systems and software. TACC's staff experts help researchers and educators use these technologies effectively, and conduct research and development to make these technologies more powerful, more reliable, and easier to use. TACC staff also help encourage, educate, and train the next generation of researchers, empowering them to make discoveries that change the world.

  • "Infinite Resolution Zero Latency" educated the public about the growing potential of gaming technology in Austin.
  • 11 speakers presented diverse perspectives on the unfolding future of the gaming industry.
  • Guests played video games – many created in Austin – on the high-resolution displays of the TACC Vislab.

Aaron Dubrow
Science and Technology Writer