There is a shadowy hall lined on either side with glass, a museum, with the bachelor suite-sized display cases youâd expect in such a place. Instead of stuffed neanderthals, each dusty case holds a plastic person playing a replica machine. Close to the exhibit entrance, a young couple of mannequins with their bell-bottoms on shag work Pong on an old Zenith set. Down the way thereâs a fake kid on display with a mushroom cut. Heâs fumbling with Super Mario World on the 12-inch GoldStar his parents finally let him keep in his bedroom. The Wii gets its own special room in the exhibit, sponsored by Toyota, who nowadays make holographic cats* and other household appliances. No one is here. The ticket-taker has fled to higher ground.It is 2060, and the video game is a strange, intangible thing that has ignited war.It all started with Project Natal: a crude Microsoft tech demo that first appeared in 2009. The masses met a virtual boy named Milo who seemed to communicate with the real-world player. Microsoft touted their controllerless concept as the future of gaming. Critics thought Natal was the next logical step in the motion control, made possible, even essential (for Microsoftâs survival), by the Wiiâs unexpected popularity.But the technology was, in the end, too simplistic to provide developers of serious games with the tools to create anything beyond novelty titles that, nonetheless, excited everyone.In turn, the eighth generation of gaming saw a significant rift in the market, as video games truly went mainstream with the release of Microsoftâs controllerless new console, the committee-named YBox, and its slogan: âThink outside the Xbox.â The hardcore gamers were driven underground, in the same way that fans of decent music dug deep in the 90s. They ironically were drawn back to computers, where indie developers offering deeper, old school-style gameplay thrived.Meanwhile, parents bought YBoxes like their kids needed the devices to breathe. And if you heard the begging and prodding some kids subjected their parents to at launch, youâd understand why the parents were so easy to break. It didnât help that the parents wanted a YBox too. Theyâd grown up either playing games or watching their friends play games, and this was the latest thing. Everyone else was doing it. So why not There were more exercise games. There were more racing games. The newly-amalgamated Sega-Ubisoft created a summer Olympics game with ten events, including the triple jump, that proved a big hit. Finally a fun Olympics title, the spiritual successor to WiiSports, it seemed.Nintendo, faced with pressure, decided to stay with the old workhorse Wii, which was already in so many North American homes. The company that was once synonymous with video games opted for new patches and introduced a new controller made up of five white rings â one for each finger and the thumb â connected by a wire. If the player bent a finger it was like pressing a button. This allowed for unparalleled control of in-game activity â especially in sports games and first-person shooters. Then there was Sony, the other big player. Their Playstation 3 ultimately emerged the victor in the seventh generation console wars, the underdog who pushed ahead half-way through the race. But when the YBox hit, the almighty Sony rushed out the PS4 and the camera-based with wand controls were seen as the most dated of the bunch. The âchocolate barâ just couldnât compete with the Natal, or the Wiiâs new Power Glove Plus 64.Eventually the big film studios, frustrated with so many bad movies based on game franchises when better games were basically interactive movies, began to make games themselves, casting major actors in playable character roles. Movies had become as stuffed with computer graphics as games anyway, why not let viewers control the action After many crazy ideas were shot down by timid execs, the result of consensus was button prompts. Each moviegoer was given a disposable controller with four coloured buttons, marked a) b) c) d), and at key plot points in these new movies, viewers were asked to choose what would happen next. It was a voting system. Democracy of a sort. The most popular answer won.** This led to many brawls in theatres. The people who wanted bad things to happen almost never got their way, and as we can well imagine, people who wish for bad things to happen arenât always so friendly when they have to sit through so many happy endings.Eventually the lines between movies and games became so blurred, and the titles themselves so simplistic, that the popularity of games finally began to wane among young adults, in favour of soccer, which finally took off in North America after the rules were changed to allow robot players and the American robotic companies began to clean up in the Olympics and World Cup.*** This also led to brawls, which was less surprising because itâs soccer. It was then, when games had lost their mass appeal to consumer frustration and boredom, that the upstart Neurovision rose to prominence. It was the brainchild of three disparate developers. Fed up with their inability to tell the complex stories they had hoped increasingly powerful techonology would allow, Neurovision promised a new kind of video game, one played entirely in the playerâs head. They called their console the Neurovision 49582AR7 â by the 2040âs, all the good names had been taken. Wags in the blogosphere, now the most respected, but dying forum of free thought, nicknamed the device âheadgearâ on account of its appearance, specifically because of the awkward requirement of early models to slip over the playerâs incisors.Launch titles included Capcom-Sega-Ubisoft-Walmartâs Super Street Fighter 35 Turbo 49582AR7, and Call of Duty: War of 1812. Both games, incidentally, involved Canadians burning down the White House. Eventually developers began making games that made people think again. Games emerged that allowed players to feel every sensation of reality in a fictitious world, to be characters in past and future lands, fight wars, find love.By 2052, the technology had improved to the point where the players didnât need any plastic wrapped around their heads at all. Games were nasal sprays. Players could be sitting on the space bus, fighting off zombies in their head, sure to hit pause every so often to check to see if their astro-stop was coming up. It was pretty cool, until rare cases of players developing severe migraines, and then schizophrenia, ignited fears that snorting nano-machines that worked their way into the playerâs brain and attached themselves forever, were somehow unsafe. Tests were ordered by the International Ministry of Science and Health, and the result: Yeah. Probably shouldnât be doing that.Soon it was discovered that the machines were actually flammable, and it was unsafe for players to be near holographic cats in the same way that it was unsafe to talk on cell phones at gas stations.Few people wanted to play a video game after their friendâs head exploded in a ball of fire. Such a wound required at least a couple weeks in the hospital. Games were eventually declared illegal, forcing the few remaining die-hard players underground. Thus began the War on Games, like the War on Drugs before it. Police would lock up people possessing spray bottles of Quintuple Dragon or Mario & Master Chief at the Uranus Games, while activists claimed it was the playerâs right to risk having their head explode. In light of this, old school gaming was re-embraced by the UCAS government.**** Ancient consoles from the NES to the PS2 were refurbished and sent out to schools as a sort of anti-game propaganda. Of course, when it was discovered that these âhead-explosion-freeâ systems contained all manner of devices to spy on the populace (everything from microphones, thermal imaging cameras and devices to steal fingerprints hidden in the buttons), it ignited a real war. The state vs. the players. The latter use generations of practicing war in games to their benefit.EpilogueThe New Civil War eventually culminates in the development of the THX-800, known informally as the âTechnology Bomb.â During a Rebel tactical strike, all of the tech bombs in the world are mistakenly detonated, wiping out all electronic devices of any kind, and the Neurovision users too. Mankind is sent into a state of flux and anarchy for a hundred years. When some measure of civility returns to the world by 2160, mankind is effectively back in the Stone Age, and is given a fresh slate to start rebuilding the world they once had. Tic Tac Toe, Hopscotch and Horseshoes become the biggest names in gaming.However, even after having the remnants of our society washed away in a torrent of blood and broken circuits, legends persist. Crowded around campfires, humans tell their children grandiose tales of plumbers who saved princesses, young heroes who saved kingdoms, warring robotic soldiers, and lightning fast blue rodents. These stories become part of the fabric of life for the new human. Eventually, the stories are codified into religions. Most follow the teachings of the Mushroom Kingdom of Heaven or Xboxism, but there are also fringe cults and smaller religions like Master Systemology, Praystation, the CapKonamicons (whoâs numbers are decimated when The Mega Men and the Solid Snakes separate to form their own religions) and the Colecovisionaries. Eventually, these differing beliefs would lead to more conflict, but thatâs a story for another time.* Real cats died out in the 2040âs after the cat-flu outbreak, so the strain was rebranded âSFDSâ in order to shelter the failing cat industry.** Tarantino especially loved this device. And George Lucas, on his deathbed, demanded a new set of Star Wars remakes utilizing the technology.*** Japan reverted to feudalism in 2034.**** The United Canadian and American States, which is Canada and most of the east coast of the US, while most of the west and mid-west of the US has been reclaimed by aboriginals. Shadowrun is awesome.