Simply put, we think of as a "game" is about to change.
Today we have passion aligned with economics. We have new fiscally viable platforms, mechanics and genres opening up. The old AAA games industry/$30 million project studios can't employ all the new talent that ardently desires to break into games and the amount of money available outside of what we've traditionally considered the purview of "video games" means that someone is going to seize it...
Artistically this means we'll be seeing new genres, new subject matters and new methods of play. People will interact with games in ways we can't imagine and through devices we cannot now conceive of.
The breadth of experiences we will be asked to deliver a decade hence will be limited not by market, but rather by imagination.
Commercially, this diversification may fracture the industry, splitting it into a group of branching industries (much as the serious games industry of today). But, more likely, it will just expand who is making games and decentralize the industry.
The big ships of today, the giant publishers and the console manufacturers, will certainly retain control over the areas they currently dominate, but many of them are ill-equipped to deal with the emerging markets and smaller project groups that will herald this change.
The new platforms will provide new ways for developers to get to market, opening up space for a broad range of smaller publishers and developers. This, in turn, will allow for smaller, more focused groups to be commercially viable addressing only niche markets. Which, again, will further our acceleration towards a limitless spectrum of "games".
I tweeted about writing this article a while back and I was given this image by a Cornell student named Chelsea Howe. I was surprised by the rigor with which topics such as this are being considered.
I offer it here, not as my work but as work better than mine which has appeared independently due to the thoughts and concerns regarding the new direction that games are taking now floating around the milieu of young, scholarly minds:
At the top I said that I don't intend to be a champion of this new movement in our industry. Writing this has made me reconsider. We are today becoming one of the world's most important mass media; we have the opportunity, at this particular turning point, this brief moment in time, to determine whether our medium will end up like the worst aspects of television or something without parallel: a grand interactive art.
This concept scares a lot of people. Often people demonize the "games as art" crowd as wanting to take away the fun or turn everyone into indie developers. This is patently not what art means.
Art simply means giving something back, providing your audience with something that enriches their daily lives, even when they aren't interacting with your art. And in this way many games are already works of art, but there's much further we can go... And every day I see companies large and small making strides in this direction.
Why? Because making a profit and doing something worthy do not have to be concepts set in opposition. No one is calling for us to throw down our cubical walls or stop making blockbusters. No one wants only French art-house games, steeped in ennui and devoid of fun. All that is being asked of us is that we step up and accept our place as a mass media, without embarrassment or shame.
If, as an industry, we fail to do this one thing during the coming change, then we will lose control of our own destiny and become what film and television have become. But, at least in the short run, if we accept this transformation our diversity of distribution will allow us to remain masters of our own fate.
This tide is coming. I'm not sure it can be fought, but it certainly can be embraced.