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April 26, 2011

A brief introduction to Gaming!

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Written by: PlayEject

The gaming industry is massive – a multi million dollar industry that has grown at a tremendous rate over the last 10 years and continued to do so despite a global recession! So how has this happened and what makes gaming so popular?

Well to find that out we need to go back a few years to the days when Arcade consoles were much more popular and had the graphical power and unique selling points of steering wheels, flight sticks and vibration feedback chairs. Basically, the stuff that we now take for granted in all our games and consoles. During the Arcade years, people would plough money into a machine at 50p or £1 a time for a few minutes of enjoyment where they try to beat a score or a level. And therein lies the key. We are competitive by nature – we want to beat something, whether thats a score, level or a friend. And thats where it started…

So a few years and a few million $’s of investment and research later we have seen a number of companies hold the crown of being a power house in the gaming market from Sega to Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft (the big 3) who now have consoles which provide all the thrills of the Arcade games, each without taking up the space of a vending machine per game!

But how we play games has also changed. The very first home consoles had the multiplayer options (pong!) on a simple scale as the manufacturers realise that its the competitive streak in us all that keep us coming back for more. But that isn’t enough – playing the guy sat next to you or the girl next door is not always possible so along came the ability to play online and the boom of Xbox Live and the Playstation network (other online services are available!) which allows us to connect to users all over the world and chat while playing the games we love. Its as close as we can get to having friends in the room with us when playing and works extremely well.

Its not just investment into the technology that has been massive either – its now just as common to see an advert or trailer on TV for the latest game as it is for a movie. Think about that for a moment – 10 years ago a cinema blockbuster was raking in the money by tens of millions and had the budget to do so. Nowadays, Homefront, Call of Duty or the latest FIFA soccer game will advertise massively on TV before and after their launch and still turn over a huge profit. That is one example of how big the gaming industry has become.

The introduction of Gamer Points/Trophies and Achievements was simply genius though – this was the most natural and obvious progression for competitive spirit to drive gamers to the next level. No longer is beating a level good enough – we are now all used to beating a section of a game to get an Achievement point and boost our profile to show off to friends. Think about it – what do we use our gamer cards for? They don’t grant access to any special part of a game. They don’t allow us to purchase anything. We don’t get a congratualtory email from Mr Gates’ team when we get 1000gp on a game. But still we play and still we collect points (sometimes as a natural progression but sometimes because we play to get them) – why? Because we are competitive and the big 3 know this.

So where now? The Kinect? Wii motion plus? Sony Move? These are tipped to be the next big thing for the consoles (especially as there’s no new console in the pipeline at the moment) but are they enough to keep gamers coming back for more? Will they feed our Competitive spirit enough? Or are we happy with gaming as it is?

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