Ken Levine finds Chromecast tech more exciting than next-gen

"I don't think the living room matters that much any more. It's about wherever you want to game."

When I spoke to Ken Levine in Boston last Monday about BioShock Infinite DLC, I also wanted to get his quick take on the next generation of consoles. Levine, though, was more interested in talking about another piece of forward-looking technology.

"From a hardware perspective, the PC and the Xbox and the PS4 are very much similar beasts in a lot of ways now," he said. "It's more about the software on top of it and the services they provide.

"What I'm excited about - you saw that Google dongle that came out the other day? - is something like that for games."

That Google dongle is better known as Chromecast, a $35 HDMI gizmo that plugs into your TV and allows you to stream from YouTube, Netflix and other media services via the cloud using a tablet or laptop as a remote.

Google's video introducing Chromecast. Reviewers have said it is cheap and cheerful but comparisons to rivals like Apple TV and Roku were unfavourable.

One of Chromecast's features is the ability to mirror the screen from devices like PCs. This feature still needs work - reviews, like this one from CNet, say there's too much lag and the quality of the output is poor - but Levine recognises great potential in the technology, even if the Chromecast itself isn't the device to prove it.

"People want to talk about owning the living room. I don't think the living room matters that much any more," he told me. "It's about wherever you want to game and having your experience. I'm not just saying playing an iPhone game, I'm saying having your game - your big, hardcore game - playing on whatever screen you wanted.

"I think that kind of technology is going to be something that's really important for gamers, because you want to be able to pick up your experience and move it somewhere else."

Google isn't the only company to play around with screen mirroring and similar concepts, of course - Sony's Remote Play feature, introduced with PS3 and PSP, will be mandatory in PS4 games so people can play them on Vita.

This sort of technology also forms the basis of kit like Nvidia's Project Shield and isn't a million miles from how services like OnLive and Gaikai - bought by Sony last year - stream screen content and game inputs over an internet connection.

Levine clearly feels that this stuff is heading towards a future where our games follow us around and specific devices become a much less important part of the equation - something we talked about at the beginning of 2013.

"The technology's there - it's actually very, very cheap," Levine said last week. "I'm just waiting for someone to do it, because letting gamers define their experience - how they play it, where they play it - that's where it's going. Gamer-driven experiences. That's what excites me."

A couple of days after we spoke, Levine tweeted: "When a Chromecast lets you play PC Games remotely from PC via your TV anywhere in your house, it will have a profound impact on gaming."

This interview was based on a press trip to Irrational's home city of Boston. Irrational paid for travel and accommodation.

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