Westworld is one of HBO’s best and most popular shows. First aired in 2016, it has since captivated the audience’s attention. Westworld’s story revolves around an eerily realistic American Old West-themed amusement park where visitors have the same freedom they would have in a video game. Critics have praised Westworld for its thoughtful examination of the darker side of entertainment. And now, five years since the show’s original release, it looks like Westworld could actually become a reality in the gaming industry.
Source: The New Yorker
Westworld’s theme park
The most interesting thing about Westworld’s story is the exclusive theme park that everyone can visit to immerse themselves into the exciting and dangerous world of the wild, wild west. Tickets are not cheap, but the entertainment this park offers is worth it. Basically, visitors can do whatever they want. Everyone they meet in the park is a very realistic-looking robot put there with the sole purpose of helping patrons with living out their wildest fantasies. The set is amazingly lifelike too.
Sure, as is always the case with sci-fi, not everything is as rosy as it seems at first glance. If you’ve seen Blade Runner, you probably know where this is going. Essentially, robots are not just soulless machines, so it doesn’t take long for things to get complicated. What matters for gamers, though, is that Westworld’s theme park is exactly the direction gaming is moving in.
Game creators try to provide an immersive experience
Sure, the gaming and gambling industries aren’t quite on Westworld’s level yet, but they are on their way. The pandemic gave a huge push to them because the popularity of gaming and online gambling reached an all-time high. Online casinos are offering close-to-real-life experiences to satisfy players who can’t go to land-based casinos at the moment. The popularity of live dealer games at online casinos keeps growing.
Similar processes are happening in the gaming industry as well. Game creators know that the one thing all players want the most is to feel as if they are inside the game’s universe. So they are doing everything possible to provide a truly immersive experience. One of the innovations that help achieve this is VR. Ever since VR was first introduced into the gaming industry, the number of VR games has been rising. At the moment, VR has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream, but we’ll get there sooner or later.
Gamification is a thing
Gamification is another major trend that makes it reasonable to discuss the possibility of Westworld’s park in real life. Gaming is no longer about video games alone. Businesses across various industries have finally realized that consumers want everything to resemble a game for them to be engaged. Think of Robinhood, an investment app. Critics have repeatedly accused it of gamifying finances and thus pushing customers toward dangerous financial choices. But it’s hard to deny that confetti and other gamified features are what make Robinhood unique, approachable, and exciting.
Another hard evidence of the extent of gamification is Netflix’s decision to get into video gaming. The streaming giant has recently announced that it is thinking of adding video games to the platform. It was also among the pioneers when it comes to fully interactive films. A special episode of the British show Black Mirror, Bandersnatch, is a half-movie, half-video game. It’s safe to say there will be others to come.
So, yes, Westworld’s theme park could well be the real future of gaming. The only difference is that gamers would hardly need to go to a remote area inhabited by lifelike robots. Instead, technology is going to bring all that to our homes. VR will be growing further, and so will other innovations that aim to create a truly immersive experience. Achieving the sense of ‘being there’ in video gaming and gambling is not a question of whether or not but when.