Though most scifi movies and books portray future videogames as totally immersive, almost indistinguishable from real life, a University of Washington researcher says the reality is more likely to be a lot more mundane. Kris Erickson writes in PS3 Informer that getting an accurate picture of future videogames requires us to look into the past, and accept the fact that there's not a tremendous difference between 1998 games and today's games. So what does he think games of 2020 will be like?

Sadly, there will be no Lawnmower Man-esque jumping into the cyber to have kinky tentacle encounters. But there will be some big differences in how we purchase games, as well as how we physically interact with them.

Erickson writes:

The game consoles of 2020 will remain completely recognizable to a time traveler from 2008. They will still require a box in your house that connects up to the television set (and these will still be called television sets). Although it is unlikely that consoles will require or include optical disk trays of any kind, they will still accept portable storage medium like memory cards. They will also connect wirelessly to the Internet the same way that they do now. Most games will be purchased through download services like Xbox Live and PSN. Controllers will probably look much the same as those from 2008, although we can’t vouch for Nintendo. It is unlikely that gamers will be willing to give up their trusty old dual analogue input for flashy new motion tracking software, unless developers get it pixel-perfect. Many newer games probably will use motion tracking, however, pointing the way toward the eventual obsolescence of physical controllers.

I think this is a pretty sober portrait of what the future might actually look like, barring Skynet coming online and destroying all our Playstations. What I think Erickson underestimates is the popularity of Wii-like gesture controllers and motion tracking. Videogames are already more popular than Hollywood film, and the more mainstream they get, the more people will need a simple way to interact with them. Many people won't want to learn to translate twitches on a controller into jumping or shooting on screen. Motion capture and gesture-operated controllers make it easier for everybody to play games - not just the twitchy-fingered.

Gaming in 2020 [via PS3 Informer]