Nonetheless, I do sometimes think that 3D printing could be huge. I'm a subscriber to the Economist (in dead tree format, natch), and they go so far as to suggest that 3D printing will be part of the third industrial revolution. I don't know about that, but I do know that I can imagine approximately ten billion uses for 3D printing in gaming, including:
- In-game 3D dungeon mapping
- Printing dice (no more "Can I borrow your d20?")
- Printing customised minis
- Printing 3D tactical maps
I also think it won't be long before you will be able to go to the Games Workshop website, fork over some cash (undoubtedly grossly inflated), and have a file sent to your computer allowing you to print 30 space marines or whatever in the comfort of your own living room.
I won't welcome these developments, necessarily, but I think they are probably inevitable. 3D printers may be in the hands of consumers within the next few years, and I do not doubt that the major gaming companies are already thinking of ways to exploit them. I think this, more than actual online gaming, will be the major development in the hobby through to 2020. You read it here first.