GDC 2008: Gaming's Futurama Forum

Mind control, game announcements, and graphics cards — the gaming elite flocks to the annual Game Developers Conference to discuss what you'll play in 2008.

New Graphics Cards

Some things are inevitable. According to the Mayan calendar (and Moore's Law), it's time for someone to unveil a new graphics card. nVidia's on the warpath, no doubt, but word has it that integrated-chip maker S3 Graphics is about to break back into the cutthroat discrete-card business. Good luck with that!

Other technologies, though, are a little tougher to forecast. Take TN Games' FPS Gaming Vest, for example. It's a 7-pound techno-tuxedo that detects where you are hit in a game and pokes you in the corresponding part of your torso. This year the company plans to introduce an accompanying helmet that'll clobber your noggin. Is all of this Skinner-box negative reinforcement really necessary? I say: more carrot, less stick. It's bad enough losing to — and being heckled by — people still trapped in puberty.

And what's nVidia up to with Ageia? Who knew that the now-dubious physics-calculating cards (Physics Processing Units, if you will) from Ageia would still be around? Without ample games showing virtual balls, bullets, and boards behaving as their real-world counterparts do, Ageia's PhysX cards have become little more than pricey paperweights. What we can't figure out is what nVidia has in store after having Take absorbed the ailing PPU creator.

The Independent Games Festival

While all the big players are posturing (or listening to a panel featuring Ralph Baer, the Father of Home Video Games), a whole other show will be happening simultaneously. Ask anyone roaming the floor, and they'll tell you that the Independent Games Festival is infinitely more important. Think of the IGF as the Sundance of gaming: It captures the spirit of budding designers hungry to create the next big thing.

Working on shoestring budgets, these pajama programmers vie for top honors in hopes of being discovered. Previous winners have gone on to create all sorts of award-winning games such as last year's puzzle game Portal and the twitch-based Everyday Shooter. I can't wait to see the finalists that rose above 175-plus entries this year.

You can expect some surprise announcements, and maybe a few big unveilings, in the coming week. Keep checking back, and we'll bring you footage from the show floor and update you on what the future holds for video games.

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Darren Gladstone

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