Since the start of humanity, people have been trying to figure out when it will all end. There’s just something about existence that isn’t satisfying without slapping an expiration date on it. Theories have been presented in religious texts, scientific studies, and the mumblings of the homeless. Sadly, all predictions have fallen short as we’re still here. Where can we turn for an accurate account of what will happen next? Try your favorite virtual world. Videogames have been acting as prophetic pieces of pop culture since their initial development. Need proof? Urban Strike, released in 1994 on the Sega Genesis, created a timeline for 2001 that included an attack on the World Trade Center. The Madden series has accurately predicted the actual Super Bowl with relative accuracy in six out of the past eight years. There have even been prophecies made that we failed to heed, like The Secret of Monkey Island‘s warning to “never pay more than twenty dollars for a videogame.” Games have been delivering prophecies since their creation. Maybe it’s time we start listening.
Videogames have been acting as prophetic pieces of pop culture since their initial development.
Rubbing the crystal ball of gaming reveals these next few years are going to be some busy ones in terms of military conflicts. After more than twenty years of relative peace between the United States and Russia, war is a total inevitability for the super powers. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon tells a tale of an insurgent uprising that takes place within Russian borders. The events take place in the year 2015, only one year after the events of Battlefield 3, which predicts tensions between the US and Russia after a Russian national uses a hostile militia in Iraq to target US troops and eventually Paris and New York. Even Battlefield 3‘s biggest rival in the FPS genre, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, tells a similar story in which Russia is overtaken by a group of nationalistic rebels. Would two games competing for players and audience deliver a similar message if it weren’t a warning of looming worldwide conflict? I think not.
If you think global warfare is the biggest issue facing us in the coming decade, it’s time to think bigger. Like, interstellar space combat big. Earth Defense Force 2017 tells us that we’re in for a visit from some unfriendly extraterrestrials. North Americans, don’t start stocking up on canned goods and bottled water or digging bomb shelters just yet – this attack will focus on Japan. The problem this presents, though, is that it could interfere with some extremely important research that is taking place under the shores of the Land of the Rising Sun.
According to Ever17, a research facility based in an underwater laboratory in Japan has developed a deadly manmade virus known as Tief Blau. Its name is very hard to pronounce, which gives an idea of just how serious it is. They will lose containment of the disease in 2017. Of course, if one could harness such a disease and release it in specific, highly populated areas it could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism, a ploy that probably sounds familiar to players of Trauma Center: Under the Knife. That game features just such a disease, known as GUILT because its full name would take a full week to say aloud. The year the GUILT outbreak began? 2018, giving an evil mastermind just enough time to manipulate strands of Tief Blau and release it on the public. Luckily, medical sciences will have cured AIDS and cancer by then, so the technology will exist to combat these manmade pathogens.
In the world of competitive athletics, audiences will broaden their acceptance of new and different players at the dawn of the next decade. According to Super Baseball 2020, we’ve got a mere 8 years before robots will be allowed to play professional sports. This marks a major advancement in the robotic rights movement, something that will play a heavy role in the coming years. In the meantime, the National Basketball Association will take a new direction as well. 2023 will usher in the reign of former NBA player Bill Laimbeer as the league commissioner. Known for his rough play and disregard for safety on the basketball court, Laimbeer will fire all referees and legalizes the use of violent weaponry, creating Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball. The encouragement of unregulated violence makes for high entertainment and higher physical tolls on the bodies of players.
These events are not yet scripture; they are simply warnings. Choose to heed them and they may be avoided. Choose to ignore them and watch them become our fate.
Taking extreme sports to a new level is the sudden obsession in street races that will pop up around 2050. Its first documentation appears in San Francisco Rush 2049 when a futuristic San Francisco, likely powered by the technological boom of bootstrapping start-ups and speedy tech developments that we see popping up today, will become the site of supercharged racing leagues. Despite tormenting the winding roads of the City by the Bay, the underground popularity of these high-speed pursuits leads to circuits popping up across the world by 2052. Wipeout chronicles one particular group of racers that will spin their wheels in Germany, Russia, Japan, and more exotic locales like Greenland, Canada, and the majestic whiteness in both landscape and populace of Utah.
The medical advancements previously detailed, along with the progression in sports leagues that will lead to lost limbs and robotic replacements, will make way for a new breed of human altogether. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel to the earlier established timeline of the Deus Ex universe, predicts a world in which biotechnological discoveries make way for the ability to create augmentations — mechanical based modifications – for the human body. While robots have been accepted in baseball, purists meet the intermixing of mechanical prosthesis and natural human biology with protest. This debate is one that will take place for years, as mechanical augmentation eventually leads to similar changes made possible by nanotechnology. The dangers of these nano-based developments are detailed in Deus Ex: Invisible War, which tells of bio-modification leading to mind control on Earth in 2072. Moving away from the Third Rock, and to red rocks, Red Faction warns of a similar fate to citizens of Mars in 2070. Technology very similar to what Deus Ex utilizes – perhaps a first run of what will be used on Earth – will allow for exploiting the minds of miners on Mars.
If you’re wondering why there would be a mining community on Mars in 2070, it’s because Earth has been drained of its natural resources. Think 2070 is too soon for our entire world to run dry? Tell that to Fallout, in which a war over the remaining resources goes nuclear in 2077. Of course, that just happens to be the same year that global warfare breaks out in Command and Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight over a renewable source of energy. The 2070s seems to be the universally agreed-upon period at which all natural resources are exhausted, so now might be a good time to start searching for that ever-elusive perpetual energy source.
This outlook may all seem pretty grim – and it only takes us to near the end of this century. These events are not yet scripture; they are simply warnings. Choose to heed them and they may be avoided. Choose to ignore them and watch them become our fate. Or they could just be videogames, meant solely for entertainment and holding no predictive qualities whatsoever. But odds are low on that being the case. These games are more than devices of distraction; they are a delivery system for a message to humanity. There’s nothing wrong with skepticism of this theory, but what if evidence from the real world backs up the soothsaying of these videogame sages? Remember, the first future forecast is war with Russia starting in 2015. Reports of a Russian sub in the Gulf Coast surfaced in August of 2012 as well. Just saying. My suggestion to you? Keep playing to better learn what’s to come.
AJ Dellinger is a freelance writer from Madison, Wisconsin. His work can be found on various sites across the web, and he can be found on Twitter @ajdell.