Gaming has moved from your parent's basement to the limelight. Here's the eight reasons why gaming may just supplant all other forms of media in the near future.
8- Legitimacy of Competition
The fact that the term, "cyberathlete" exists is a clear indication that gaming competition is becoming a serious business. From small Guitar Hero tournaments at local bars to massive Halo competitions with millions worth in prizes; gaming competitions are not only gaining momentum as accepted activities, they're attracting crowds and even syndication. A tournament company called Major League Gaming has a contract to broadcast gaming competitions on the USA Network. The market is large enough for a good enough gamer to earn a living and Starcraft is practically Korea's national sport. Sooner or later those who pwn will be cutting in line at clubs.
7- Social Networking
Remember those news stories about couples who met on World of Warcraft? Did you hear about that guy who was arrested for stalking a girl on Xbox Live? How about Republican Ron Paul who held a campaign march in the Alliance city of Ironforge on World of Warcraft's Wisperwind server? Most gamers have friends on Xbox Live or PSN that they've never met in person. We all know of the phenomenon of online social networking led by sites like Facebook and MySpace. Along with these sites, online video games will surely play a large part in the future development of people's online presence. Soon many people will be better known by their avatars than their faces.
6- The Tech-friendly Media
More than any other form of media, gaming has adapted masterfully to the new technologies of the 21st century, particularly when it comes to high-definition displays and the penetration of broadband and Wi-Fi. No form of media has taken to both of the big innovations of the last few years like gaming. While folks are still hooking analog cable to HDTVs and using America Online with their cable internet, most gamers are using the technologies of today properly, which is why consoles are performing more multimedia functions. The media companies are learning who its audience is, and it's usually holding a controller.
5- More than Just Entertainment
Games are no longer considered simply as tools for killing brain cells. Today there is a rapidly growing market for games as tools for education and fitness. Companies are looking to develop video games that are educational, while schools are looking to the gaming industry for new kinds of educational tools. Games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit are melding exercise with gaming. As games become useful outside the realm of entertainment they not only become more socially accepted, but more important to society. Educational films, fitness tapes, and even instructional manuals will soon be totally obsolete.
4- Declining Competition
Box-office returns are down. Cable and network ratings aren't exactly through the roof either. Most folks wouldn't touch a book to save their lives, so how are they entertaining themselves? More and more, gaming is becoming an acceptable means of entertainment, due in no small part to the staleness of its competitors. With no end in sight to the Hollywood writer's strike, the steady influx of videogames could convert many couch potatoes growing tired of three nights a week of "American Gladiators."
3- Gaming Goes Big
While the increase of independent, low-budget games has been critical in the industry's success, the big-budget blockbusters are also a key part of keeping the core gaming audience satisfied. While the conglomeration of big companies and the rapidly-increasing budgets for triple-A titles has led to game creation by committee, there's no denying that catering to the largest audience possible is an excellent business decision. It's the Transformers effect& many will be entertained, even if it isn't forwarding the art form an inch.
2- Increasing Cultural Relevancy
Remember the games of the past? They were all about jumping over alligators and eating jelly beans. Today, more video games are using politics and current events as subject matter. Call of Duty 4, for example, portrays the horror of nuclear war inspired by America's conflict in the Middle East. Think about Metal Gear Solid 4's plot about private military companies perpetuating war for profit. Not only are games daring to cover "real-life" topics, they themselves are becoming "real-life" topics. More and more you'll see game reviews in newspapers, indy-made video game spoofs, and television shows centering on gaming. This all indicates that games are normalizing in the world's collective consciousness.
1- Capturing the Casual Audience
Did anyone honestly believe that this would be the console generation that catered to the elderly and&:gasp:: girls? Yet that's exactly what's happened, due largely to the success of Nintendo thinking outside the box with the touch-screen Nintendo DS and the motion-sensing Wii. Before those systems hit it big, it seems as though Sony and Microsoft had resigned to competing over the same sect of hardcore gamers into perpetuity, but Nintendo's amazing success has broadened the audience considerably, and given its competitors reason to delve into more easy-to-enjoy games. And that's why we have dozens of Bejeweled clones on Xbox Live Arcade.