Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
GoatLord

Possible use of 3D printing for gaming (thought experiment)

Recommended Posts

3D printing technology is disruptive in that, if it evolves far enough, then copyrights, patents and the basic idea of ownership starts to get muddy. If it becomes a consumer device, and grows too quickly for authorities and corporations to prevent blueprints from being freely distributed, we may see a society where everything is (nearly) free and the average person prints or replicates whatever they need. This is sort of like the Star Trek universe, which imagines a money-less society where everyone on Earth is accounted for, economically speaking.

I don't know how far we'll be in a few decades--or if a "nearly free" society is even possible--but I do believe the disruptions caused by material replication will lead to an interesting development in the gaming community: Eccentric engineers and creative types who print out old systems, games, accessories, even the manuals. Some will create all-in-one boxes (there are rudimentary versions of that now), or entirely new systems and games, or mixing and matching so that games collide in unexpected ways.

There will be so much access, so much ease of use, so much replication of older tech, so much retrofitting, that classic gaming would essentially live on in this grey market, where the actual physical thing can be re-experienced as long as there is a community supporting it. It's interesting to imagine whether or not it'll be impossible for Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and others to prevent such a paradigm from from developing, and my guess is that they'll be just fine for awhile, and then, very slowly, find it increasingly difficult to keep this from being a reality.

Share this post


Link to post

You can essentially do all of this now, it just takes a lot of work. Retro Games does live on in a weird grey market, between rereleases and emulators retro gaming will live on forever. Also 3d printers are pricey.

Share this post


Link to post

It's thermodynamically impossible for 3D printing to ever become more energy- and resource-efficient than mass production due to the complexity of the process, having to manage a supply chain for small amounts of a huge range of materials, etc. 3D printers themselves would still have to be manufactured somewhere, and the requisite complexity of a device that could print me a smartphone would make it more expensive than the grand total of all non-perishable goods I will ever buy in my entire life. For 3D printing to mean "nearly free" goods for the "average person," each printer would have to serve several city blocks and last for generations, and you need to completely remove corporate profit from the equation. Someone still needs to design the blueprints for printed goods. Pirating designs from major manufacturers is only possible if enough people keep purchasing their goods the normal way to keep them in business, which means nothing has changed for the "average person." Just using old, freely available blueprints for everything means that consumer technology stagnates. Hoping that layman engineers design goods as a hobby project is going to leave you waiting a very long time for reliable tech. Choose your dystopia.

3D printing isn't going to rattle copyright law to its core. Legislators are already comfortable with paradox. You can't copyright a number. You can copyright a program. Reconcile that.

Share this post


Link to post

People are already using 3D printers to print terrain and models for table top games. If the technology gets cheaper and better, Games Workshop (for example) will have to figure out how to cope with it.

Share this post


Link to post

I was thinking of making 3d reconstruction software for building 3d models from scans of physical objects. You could take your DND sets and action figures or even make stop-motion animations and put them into a game.

I found a paper that describes how to do this in real time using only common computer hardware and an ordinary digital camera. (If you think this sounds cool please don't steal my idea!)

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×