Time/date: 5 p.m. Sunday, March 13.
The panelists: Alissa Bushnell with 104 West Partners; Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus; Nolan Bushnell, CEO of BrainRush; Tyler Bushnell, president of Polycade Inc..
The gist: The enthusiastic members of the Bushnell family, which famously include Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, talked about the future of entertainment, specifically what video-game experiences and arcades will be like in a world with virtual reality, ubiquitous sensors and the ability to create more interactive live spaces around players. Much of the panel was driven by Two Bit Circus CEO Brent whose vision of gigantic theme park-like play areas that use augmented reality and provide game spaces that allow players to move around instead of stuck on a couch seems perfectly plausible. The panel did look back at the history of the family's contribution to gaming and family entertainment (they also founded Chuck E. Cheese's pizza parlors).
The takeaway: The family still has a lot of contagious enthusiasm for making great gaming experiences. The cost of providing what used to seem like too-futuristic game environments is dropping rapidly, allowing for geospacial games, collaborative virtual gaming and Internet-enabled play. Wires are still a huge challenge, "The enemy" as Nolan Bushnell calls them for VR, but it's all moving rapidly and getting cheaper to make. Rather than keeping people tied to computers and desks, these game experience will hopefully get people into more social settings and moving around/exploring instead.
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