Predictions. People are always out to know the future, or at least some idea of what will be coming along. Computer gaming is no different. In March 1988, Computer Gaming World published a Q&A with several SF authors on what we might expect in years to come.

Taking part were Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison, Steven Brust, Alan Dean Foster, and Jerry Pournelle. How well did they do?

Douglas Adams saw games “becoming increasingly multimedia”, so score one for him. However, one demerit for saying that sound would be more important than graphics. He also thought we’d have to wait for true A.I. before artificial environments could be truly effective.

Foster, however, considered sophisticated graphics as the key, and he was right on there, especially when he talked about 3D visuals.

Zelazny imagined “combining gaming with computerized electroencephalography and biofeedback”. We haven’t quite reached that stage yet, although More Mind Games shows we’re slowly getting there.

Harry Harrison envisioned multiplayer: “You’ll have interactive games played by a number of people across the country, like Dungeons and Dragons, maybe with graphics from a video disc.”

Asimov was a bit leery about advancement, saying: “Anything which offers you a more exciting life, but then forces you to return to your own, is going to leave you more dissatisfied than before.” Perhaps he was thinking about the possibilities of game addiction here, though he didn’t say so outright.

Brust was a bit startling when he said: “You’d carry around what looks like an Etch-A-Sketch, and you’d just plug it in wherever you are, or maybe you don’t plug it in, maybe it would be over the airwaves – and there you’d have access to a library”. Wow, he was right, wasn’t he?

Jerry Pournelle was the only one to mention wargames; he figured that the genre was moving towards control of more complex battle scenarios.

The article concluded with: “Online libraries? Fully simulated realities? Thought-controlled games? Are these guys for real?”

Well, it’s almost twenty years later, and we have the answer: yes, they were for real, and pretty close to the state of the industry today. I wonder if any of them ever used any of this in any of their work?