What do video games do? They amplify particular human tendencies – our innate hunger for learning, our delight in solving problems and challenges, our sociability and rivalries, our pleasure in escaping the uncertainties of the world for more predictable rewards – says Tom Chatfield in ‘Fun Inc.’ (www.landmarkonthenet.com).
He adds that, additionally, ‘games as interactive systems increasingly connect to the ways in which we work, communicate, plan and express ourselves in a digital age, a process that is making the world more playful, and where the business of play is becoming ever broader and more profitable.’
Over the next half-century, in the author’s view, video games are going to become as much a part of everyone’s daily experience as television, radio, automobiles, refrigerators, type and the written word.
Another certainty that he sees in video games is money, lots of it! “From its current value at $42 billion and double-digit annual growth rate, there’s no reason to suppose that the video games industry will stop at the $50 billion or even the $100 billion mark.”
Video games, assures Chatfield, already possess both successful and robust models for making money from their users, online and offline. And he anticipates that the kind of service offered by virtual worlds will remain at a premium for years to come, even if it shifts towards funding via advertising and micro-payments rather than the subscription model currently dominant in the West.
An insight of value is that casual games – ‘short, sweet, low-commitment doses of high engagement delivered to everyone from busy working bosses on commuter trains to pensioners waiting for their hair to set’ – have a huge growth potential.
The author reasons that, with mobile computing platforms only just beginning to show what they are capable of, this kind of rapid on-demand fun of casual games may well offer a more accurate image of the ‘gaming’ of everyday life than that of high-commitment virtual worlds, where immersion and effort put severe limits on when and how people are able to play.
So far as technology is concerned, convenience and instant satisfaction have a far broader potential for growth than highly sophisticated, demanding products that on paper appear far more impressive, he instructs.
Thanks to the latest generation of mass-market advances by console manufacturers, we are entering a new age, the author cheers. Be ready, for instance, to encounter ‘neurological control, facial and postural recognition, and real-time sensory feedback,’ in an environment ‘where remote human interactions will increasingly involve more than simply sounds and images, and where three-dimensional displays will finally start to become a realistic option for home users.’
Chatfield foresees games to remain at the forefront of this field, with physical feedback and motion detection as standard in every gaming device in the near future. And, away from home, he expects location-based gaming to offer a different kind of interaction, ‘with GPS-enabled gamers tying up with everything from Google maps to TripAdvisor.’
Prescribed for a serious read.