From the austere Newtonian universe of Spacewar! to the lush galactic disc of Mass Effect, video games have been taking us beyond Earth's atmosphere for decades, but in the eyes of Dr Jeff Norris of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, few have done the spirit and practicalities of space travel justice. Speaking at this February's DICE summit in Las Vegas (video below), Norris threw down something of a gauntlet. "If you'd like games to be recognised as a great form of art, I'm afraid that some of you, not all of you, are going to need to step it up. You see, great art, doesn't just move us as individuals, it can move entire societies." For Norris, art has worth when it's bringing about "riot and revolution", when it furthers some broader cultural or political enterprise - an enterprise such as NASA itself, which has long relied upon dreamers of all kinds to relay its values and significance to the world at large.
Here's what's clear: big console game sales are down. Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2 and more all failed to even match the sales of their predecessors at launch. People I've spoken to in the UK retail business are in panic mode. The PS4 has been a huge success. Xbox One is doing well. What's going on?
I've seen plenty of theories, some better than others. Writing on Eurogamer's sister site, Gamesindustry.biz, Rob Fahey puts forward one of the better ones: that the rise of digital means fewer physical game sales are in people's hands to trade-in. Certainly in the UK, which has a huge pre-owned video game market, that makes a lot of sense.
Fahey also suggests more and more games are designed to keep us playing week after week and, as a result, we're not interested in playing as many new games. Think Destiny or Minecraft or FIFA. Again, I agree this plays a part. I played Destiny for pretty much two years solid, tuning in each week to the detriment of trying out new games.
Editor's note: Ahead of our full review next week after we've had time to get to grips with the game's online component, here are Edwin's impressions of the single-player campaign.
There's a scene in the first Battlefield 1 trailer that sums up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's reveal. It involves a huge flaming airship crashing and burning, going down like a lead balloon.
Once upon a time, Halo was the tale of a place. A tale of it, and a tale shaped by it. Installation 04's famous skybox - that pristine curl of oceans and meadows, rearing amid the stars - may be very obviously a flat backdrop, but it does create the impression of an underlying 3D continuity, the vague conviction, as in a Souls game, that you can pick out the site of a previous battle high above the skyline, winking through the atmospheric haze.
For all the high-profile negativity surrounding Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's reveal trailer, the game's campaign actually looks pretty interesting.