July 2, 2022

The Light Speed Debate – A Gamers Perspective.

Whilst it is fascinating, and a little science-fiction, let us be clear; it should be said that the news that physicists have seen subatomic particles called neutrinos exceed the Universe’s speed limit is science in its infancy, and it isn’t overnight going to change how anything happens or works. It has to be authenticated, studied and repeated before we take the next steps.

And yet, it provides an amazing opportunity for us, as a species, if these particles are taking dimensional short-cuts, or travelling a long way above the speed limits that light set us. Whilst some argue time travel would be possible (dimensional shortcuts could mean effect can precede cause), the first and most supported idea would be to discover how to use this to travel – as in, space travel, which would be a much more important and pressing issue considering how finite our planets resources are.

But that is long-term. And this is a blog about gaming. And such a result would change gaming as we know it, for yes, hardware and software and your internet speed are all based on the assumption that nothing can travel faster than light.

The precedent would be amazing – technology and connectivity that is nanoseconds faster than normal, optimising the speed of your computer or console. This would make downloads faster, and would make systems operate cleaner and better. But more importantly, it could also change the GAMES.

Right now, take Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for example. Despite the fact it does a VERY good job faking it, you are only ever fighting one or at most two enemies at any given point, a side effect of the processing power being directed towards keeping the visuals and screen slick and polished. This is obviously determined by programming, but also to some extent the hardware it is designed for – it is limited by that “hardware” (which is why most PC games look like their console counterparts on medium settings).

Faster processing, coupled with our relentless urge to push on in terms of potency, could change AI programming forever. It could also make loading times a thing of the past, as once again, reading of discs is based upon a laser, therefore light. Wireless controls would be better (although they’re fine now if we’re going to be honest, there’s no noticeable lag on a human level).

It is amazing that so much of what we have today – TV, the internet, our games, our controllers, our mobile phones – is based upon Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, which is what states that nothing can exceed the speed of light. Technology itself has this limitation built-in, from decades of work. Undoing it, or redoing everything to fit in with the idea that there may really be no upper limit, would take years – if not decades. You’d have to work out how to transmit information at such a speed, and find cables and materials capable of processing, carrying and harnessing such speeds.

And yet, it’s a tempting thought. In spite of the reality that such a discovery will probably take years of study to analyse – or even replicate – it’s that curious ideology in our minds, the seed planted, that anything may be possible. That “nothing is without limit” may be a fallacy, and that one of the greatest minds in Physics may have accidentally limited his theory, and therefore the progression of science and technology as we know it. It makes us smile. There is hope. There is a chance.

And I for one hope they do confirm it – not because I want technology to adopt principles of such a discovery (as I said, this could take years) but the idea that we’re unlocking the universe, and there is so much more out there.

It could give rise to a whole new wave of science fiction – and games would likely be there, at the forefront, pushing this onward with its medium counterparts, books and movies and TV shows. All united at last in exploring a new frontier of ideas. That may sound all hippy-tastic. But it really isn’t – it could be the brave new world that videogames need to shrug off so many cliches and stereotypes.

It’s all still fantastical and, at the end of the day, it’s still theory. But physics is based upon theory primarily, and we’ve been assuming a lot in the last century. The truth is, things haven’t really changed much in that department since Einstein had a pop at explaining his workings. A lot of the advancements and ideas since have been based upon that one discovery – it could mean Physicists would have to look at all the theories that have come since and revise them. And technology based upon this theory -could- be revised as well. It’s an exciting idea – and a daunting one.

That said, on a note of cautious pessimism; none of the research, development and execution for anything based on this will come cheap. And we are likely to end up paying a sizable amount more for the privilege.

But then, that’s how the universe seems to work. Ironic, no?


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