You’ve probably seen some very weird images popping up on your social media feeds recently, thanks to the explosion in popularity of Dall-E Mini – which we at Retro Dodo took for a spin to see what it thought the future of gaming might look like!
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Hang on, what is Dall-E Mini?
Cheekily referencing surrealist artist Salvador Dali and sentient Pixar garbage compactor robot Wall-E, Dall-E Mini is an artificial intelligence model that was created back in July 2021 by programmer Boris Dayma. Initially created for a competition held by Google and an AI community called Hugging Face, Dall-E Mini allows users to type in any prompt – and within a few minutes, it produces nine pieces of surrealist art based on whatever it was told to create.
Does Dall-E work?
Part of the appeal of Dall-E Mini is the fact that the art it produces can often be so close to what is requested, but there’s always at least a slight weirdness to whatever it creates. At best, it’ll give you exactly what you ask for with a few minor details that seem off; at worst, it creates absolute nightmare fuel with the nine images it presents after you hit the Run button.
So what’s this about predicting the future of gaming?
We at Retro Dodo Towers had been having some fun with some retro gaming themed prompts for Dall-E; even fairly innocuous stuff such as ‘Pac-Man Eating Ghosts’ returned some off-puttingly weird images, as you can see above. So we thought to ourselves, “What if we ask Dall-E to show us some mock-ups of potential new hardware?”
How did we do it?
Keeping it simple – which is always for the best, or it results in some seriously jumbled up imagery – we tried to see what a new Nintendo handheld would look like, along with a further iteration of the Steam Deck, the PlayStation 6 and a next gen Xbox (who knows what Microsoft will call it, what with their bizarre naming conventions!).
The results were interesting, to say the least. Let’s take a look!
Prompt: New Nintendo Handheld
Though Nintendo have sometimes followed clear naming conventions (NES to SNES, Wii to Wii U, DS to 3DS etc), at times there’s not been any clear progression between their console names as we move to the next generation. Nintendo 64 to GameCube, GameCube to Wii or Wii U to Switch, for example. All we know at this stage is that Nintendo are likely to continue the handheld/home console hybrid experience that works so brilliantly with the Switch.
So we decided to go with New Nintendo Handheld – and the images we got were probably not far off what we’ll see next from Nintendo.
Multiple controllers with a screen on each one (and some crazy button configurations in some instances) seemed to be quite a consistent theme. It certainly would be great to go back to the asymmetrical design philosophy of the Wii U, albeit with each player having their own distinct screen.
Rather than there only being a single unique screen, as was the case with the Wii U’s controller – with the main TV screen showing an overview, stats or perhaps the shared information in a multiplayer game (with a main console that connects to all of the controllers and the TV). Even a more general map of the stage the players are competing or co-operating on would be a great idea.
To evolve the Switch experience (which is excellent and still feels unique – see our best Nintendo Switch games list here), I truly think that this is the way to go: each player having their own controller and their own screen. Well played, Dall-E. Well played.
Prompt: Next Generation Steam Deck
Sure, Valve’s portable PC – which allows Steam users access to the vast majority of their Steam library on the move – has not long been released, with many players yet to receive their device. Still, it can’t hurt for us to try and look at what form the next Steam Deck might take, right?
So, I suspect this is a case of being a bit too soon here – the Steam Deck being as fresh as it is and Valve not being known for hardware (their ill-fated collaboration with Alienware on Steam Machines aside) means that all we get are some slightly wonky paintings of actual Steam Decks. Though perhaps the next Steam Deck really will just be a slightly modified version of the existing one (and it’ll almost certainly have pretty much the same functionality – check out our guide on how to install emulators on your Steam Deck)? Dall-E’s prediction may yet come true!
Prompt: Sony PlayStation 6
No such worries about naming conventions exist with Sony and their PlayStations, which have played it safe from the PlayStation 2 onwards (the only deviation being their PS Vita, which didn’t follow the numbering convention at all after the PlayStation Portable).
So when prompting Dall-E with Sony PlayStation 6, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A mish-mash of all of Sony’s prior PlayStations perhaps?
Disappointingly, most of the images were just riffs on the PS5’s design. Though Sony are boringly unadventurous when it comes to their naming conventions, the same can’t be said for their console design, with each one always being a real departure from the previous generation’s look, feel and even colour scheme most of the time (while you’re here – take a look at the best retro games on PS5). Dall-E has let us down here, I think!
Prompt: Next Generation Xbox
Unfortunately, it’s done the same for the prompt Next Generation Xbox. As the names vary wildly from generation to generation (from just Xbox to Xbox 360, then a baffling move to Xbox One – and currently Xbox Series S and X), we can’t possibly guess what Microsoft will call their next Xbox – so it’s resulted in some boring (though amusingly squishy) variations on the Xbox Series X.
Given the distinct changes in design from generation to generation when it comes to the Xbox, it’s unlikely that we’ll just see a slight upgrade to the Series X design (while we’re talking Xboxes, check out our list of the best selling original Xbox games). So here, Dall-E hasn’t done a great job either!
Prompt: Retro Dodo Logo
Lastly, we thought we’d let Dall-E have a go at a new logo for Retro Dodo. Though we aren’t intending to change our iconic little extinct bird just yet, we are pretty happy with Dall-E’s interpretation – our favourite one is above!
A Bonus Dall-E Prompt
OK, one more for the road. Here’s what it came up with when entering my name.
And I think that’s enough Dall-E for one day.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.