Part of the machine
In some ways it seems silly to highlight individual TEDTalks - every one that I've ever watched has been well worth the time taken to watch it - but David Perry's Will videogames become better than life? is more directly relevant to this blog than many so I'll give it a quick plug.
Interesting for its historical perspective on the rise of the videogame format, its vision of the future, and its glimpse into the mindset of game-players, this video is a great watch. The emphasis is not really on "will videogame graphics and audio continue to become more and more life like?" (answer, "yes, of course") but on "will videogames ever touch us emotionally in the way books and movies do?". Can a videogame make us cry? Fundamentally, how do virtual experiences change us as people?
In the context of 3-D virtual worlds - and everything in this talk, and the two videos shown as part of it, can be applied to virtual worlds as much as to games - emotion, purpose, meaning, understanding, feeling... these are the important factors that determine how immersive the virtual experience is. Ultimately, these factors determine how much the machine becomes part of us and we become part of the machine.
As Perry says towards the end:
"... the magic to come - where is that going to come from? Is it going to come from the best [film] directors in the world as we probably thought it would? I don't think so. I think it's going to come from the children who are growing up now that aren't stuck with all the stuff that we remember from the past. They're going to do it their way..."