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Yu-Gi-Oh! - 50 Years From Now
Predicting technology is hard to do accurately and successfully. 15 years ago, the idea of a telephone with a screen for video calling sounded like an amazing idea that everyone would buy and fix to their wall. I'm sure a lot of us imagined it would take a lot of time for this to happen.
For a while, computers have had this as free apps like Skype and Oovoo. And people don't use it nearly as much as we may have predicted. Out of left-field was the idea that cell phones could do almost every practical function known to humanity. Yeah, technology is tough to predict for sure.
Sometimes I think of what YGO will be like in 50 years. Or perhaps framing this more appropriately, what it would've been like had it been created 50 years from now. I'm 50/50 on whether this game will be able to survive a half-century longer. In fact it may, but it will have to take on an entirely new meaning. Heck, every 5 years I say the game is dead and it keeps living. So, I'm not even going to predict an end date.
50 years from now, who knows how much Starter Deck Yugi (1st edition) will cost on eBay. These cards could very well be a vintage collector item to bring back nostalgic memories.
First things first. What about holograms?
Maybe YGO will play exactly like it did on the anime. Okay, well, the duel disk thing didn't pan out so well. And pain sensors to zap you when you take life point damage, as strangely appealing as they would be, would result in way too many lawsuits.
With the hologramed performance of Tupac Shakur (this is ironically the second time I mention him in my column) a runaway success, this could very well be a good start. Having to make holograms for thousands of cards though would be a serious logistical issue. Especially having to make 100 new ones every 4 months when a new booster set comes out. And by the time we have this technology available, YGO probably won't be popular, so we can only hope that in 50 years from now, a handful of college kids can make this in their spare time.
It's a romantic dream, but a logistical nightmare.
Finding A Niche
I think a change of technology thus far has certainly made card games less appealing. This is not unlike the decline of board games (seriously, I see barely anybody still playing games like Monopoly). Video-game consoles have become more advanced and tablets/phones satisfy people's hunger for gaming on-the-go.
Years ago, screens, computers and portable devices could not represent the aesthetics of fantasy through an interactive medium effectively. Physical cards, dice and boards were much more suitable. It would deeply sadden me, to be honest, if there was a day to come where all human social interaction is removed from a card game.
Cardfight Vanguard, created recently, is doing quite well. It is a niche game though, and the prospects of a recently created game flourishing like YGO did is quite slim.
In a sense, you could already call YGO a niche game because it's well past the era where nearly every 10 year old boy bought packs to collect the cards rather than to participate in a meta game. If YGO becomes more of a niche (which is very likely), it will have more of a meta slant.
Over time, finding someone to play against could be very hard. Card/comic stores might abandon YGO tournaments for the next big thing. Let's say there's only 10,000 YGO players in the whole world instead of the (I'm assuming) hundreds of thousands we have now, the odds of more than 5 of them attending a local comic store would be slim. Big tournaments wouldn't recoup enough to justify their budget. And you would only have a handful of friends to play against in real life.
Most younger people will be into whatever trends are available at that time. So, it might be a game that old people play for nostalgia sake, or it might make a revival and achieve cult status. Very much like the many high school kids out there who wear Led Zeppelin and The Doors shirts. Maybe it's a cultural comeback, or maybe, we as parents (or parents-to-be) will tell our kids about YGO. Otherwise, we'll have to rely on the internet to find people around the world in every corner who want to play YGO.
With video games, a problem that some older games with a somewhat active niche fanbase (like maybe Unreal Tournament for example) is that it will be dominated by very skilled players. Very few new people enter and the ones who do might find it overwhelming and uncomfortable due to the disparity in skill between them and the frequent users. But since YGO is much more accessible and there is no server with fixed rule, this problem can perhaps be easily averted.
Whether it's phone/tablet apps and websites like DuelingNetwork or an underground society of duelists preserving their cards with intent to rebuild civilization (a bit dramatic, much?), I am almost certain that the tradition will carry on in some capacity.
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