Whatever you do, don’t look back.

In many ways, that’s become the motto of the games industry. Old franchises may still limp along, but fortune increasingly favors the bold. Six months ago, Grand Theft Auto 4 was among the highest-rated videogames of all time. Now it’s ancient history, supplanted in our collective gamer consciousness by anthropomorphic beanbags and parkour sims. Whatever the future holds for gaming, at least we know it will be new.

But you invariably lose something by looking at the games industry as a succession of one-offs. Trends are slowly coming into shape that will have lasting consequences on the direction of game development for years to come – and not all of them are positive.

This week’s issue, “The Future of Gaming” attempts to pinpoint a few of those currents that might direct the next generation of game developers. In “There is Research to be Done,” Michael Cook examines how the games industry and academia are profiting from an open dialogue on artificial intelligence. Robert Ashley looks at how game developers are slowly improving the experience for deaf players in “The Silent Majority.” In “Open-World Gaming,” Spanner interviews LocoMatrix developer Richard Vahrman on the game development possibilities of GPS-enabled phones. Peter Parrish sheds some light on the potentially incestuous relationship between developers and fan communities in “Fast-Track to Fanaticism.” And in “The Short Shelf Life of EGP Apparel,” Jared Newman speaks with a few indie game developers who briefly found a foothold on retail shelves.

Jordan Deam

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