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Podcast: David Perry on videogames - Will videogames become better than life?

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View Podcast Online? Yes

Podcast length: 21 minutes

Podcast Description

This podcast comes from TED 2009. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It is a conference that has been annual since 1984, and has become one of the most elite technological events on the calendar. The 'cast is a talk by game designer David Perry, on how games will become more than games in the relatively near future. Virtual realities will be created which for some, are more meaningful than life.

Presenter Biographies

David Perry

David Perry is the mind behind such famed video games as Earthworm Jim, Messiah, and best-selling game adaptations of movies like Disney's Aladdin, Terminator and The Matrix. He has designed tie-ins for international brands such as 7-Up and McDonald's, and now works on a group of massively multiplayer online titles for Acclaim. A programmer since childhood and a lifelong gamer, Perry has a special understanding of the mechanics that make games fresh, fun, emotionally involving - and addictive.

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Audio file available? No

Podcast Download? Yes

28 MB

Podcast viewing notes

Unusually for a TED podcast, this one picks up after the presenter has already begun their speech. It jumps straight into him talking about his roots, where he grew up in Ireland. But don't worry, none of the meat of the presentation is missing.

David got into computing through a roundabout route, as he talks about. In school, the school had a grant from the government for specialised computing equipment, and the installers left the programming manuals lying around where anyone could just pick them up.

Much of the talk leads on in the same manner. A very humorous look at the roots of videogaming. The presenter is constantly making wisecracks at his own expense and that of the technology he worked with. He shows some really simplistic ASCII art games, and starts to talk about how you had to have a pretty good imagination to believe you were what the games told you, you were.

Moving on more to the present day, gaming virtual worlds and non gaming are mentioned. World of Warcraft and Project Entropia are mentioned explicitly, and the keyy market of player to player item trading is remarked and expanded upon as one of the key figures for the growth in spending in this industry.

From 6:36 onwards, a video montage is played, showing the increase in graphics capability in computer mediated environments from 1976 to 2006 - a single 30 year snapshot that shows 30 years of improvement, and the interesting observation that progress has not occurred linearly. It is an exponential curve that is still increasing - an S curve. Video concludes at 9.06.

An interesting point about the video is it is not just showing graphics increases, though that was its stated purpose. It clearly demonstrates through the montage, the evolution of physics, AI, and general interactivity on similar S curves.

As the presenter immediately states afterwards, graphics are improving, but that's not the main focus. "Can a videogame make you cry?" Emotional involvement, getting the player to bond with the game is the real reason for the graphics, and the topic the presenter really cares about.

A student video is up next. A self-confessed videogame addict, discussing how he became a partially digital being - how even the simplest 16 bit console became more than an escape, it became a personal virtual reality.

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