I went to Disney World a few years ago. I had one of those package deals where your hotel, food and entertainment are all included. I stayed in the themed hotel. I went to all four of the main parks. I went to the luau, complete with fire-twirling dancers. I had open access to all the little “side attractions” associated with Disney, things like Blizzard Beach (one of two water parks on site), mini-golf, and Disney Quest.

Ahhh, Disney Quest.

Of all the wonders at Disney World, Disney Quest, the Indoor Interactive Theme Park, is my favorite. Perhaps it was because the air conditioning inside gave a most welcome break from the mid-90 degree heat outside, mid-June in Florida. Perhaps it was because I had no idea what to expect upon entering. Or perhaps it was that I hadn’t expected to catch a glimpse of the Future in my trip down Memory Lane.

This is not to say that Disney Quest did not offer nostalgia in its own way – I spent the better half of an afternoon hopping from one classic arcade game to another, all rigged for free play. Galaga, Burgertime, and all of the Tron games were ready and waiting, among dozens of others, taking up nearly half of the second floor in the large facility. It was every game lover’s dream.

But Disney doesn’t stop there; they take the videogame goodness up a notch. My next stop was in the “Explore Zone,” and it was called Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride. It would change my view, literally, of the future of games.

The set-up was much like that of a motorcycle, but without the tires. Rather, the body was suspended by cables from the ceiling, as was a helmet with a visor. After a few moments of strapping the helmet on and familiarizing myself with the controls, the world of Agrabah opened up before – and above and behind – me. While the other three people with whom I was playing zoomed off in the distance, I hovered in midair on my magic carpet. I looked up at a blue, cloudless sky; I looked behind me to see more shops lining the road; I looked down, leaning as far forward as I could on my hand-rests, at a rapidly approaching brick in the road until I pulled up out of my accidental nose-dive into the street below.

Once I had righted myself from the near-disaster of playing chicken with the road, I was off. I flew through the game, collecting floating jewels and racing through a maze of a temple. While the helmet was heavy and floating jewels aren’t exactly realistic, it was the most memorable gaming experience I have ever had. It was innovative and, I felt, a clear look at the future of games.

Which brings us to this issue, Fast Forward 2020. It’s a look into the near future of gaming. Rather than pie in the sky ideas of what’s coming, our authors have extrapolated on current technology and trends: Jim Rossignol ponders the future of MMOGs and what really drives their success, while Dana Massey examines the role of genre in the evolution or stagnation of gaming. And John Tynes returns in his monthly Contrarian column to share his view on what the path of growth for games should be. Please enjoy these articles and more in this week’s issue of The Escapist.

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