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Video games here to stay


By Calum Wilson Austin

VIDEO games are here to stay. As the newest form of mainstream entertainment, games have finally achieved the level of acceptance film has been afforded for years.

It’s the inevitable by-product of commercial success. In the first 24 hours of its release this month, Modern Warfare 3, the most recent release in the Call of Duty franchise, set sales records, making more than $US400 million in the US and Britain alone.

Gaming has officially arrived and the industry is growing fast. Cinema has a long history of innovation and improvement but that has slowed down in recent years. Gaming, on the other hand, is constantly advancing. Every year expectations are surpassed and new standards set. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer.

The gaming landscape is complicated but three companies dictate where it is heading: Microsoft, with its Xbox 360; Sony, with the PlayStation 3; and Nintendo with the Wii and DS. There has always been a rivalry, especially between Microsoft and Sony, as they attempt to tap the same market. Just watch the other big publishers scramble to catch up when a lucrative idea is revealed.

The best example of this was Nintendo’s Wii, the motion-control-based console. Nintendo hit an untapped nerve with Wii. Sacrificing the processing power of the other consoles for refined motion controls and an appealing design, it aimed squarely at casual gamers. Microsoft and Sony soon followed suit with the Kinect and PlayStation Move respectively. Although the peripherals of both sold fairly well, neither replicated the phenomenal success of the Wii.

Standing apart from the ongoing battle of gaming Goliaths, but by no means less important, is the indie developer. Though previously there was little market for smaller, self-published games, the rise of the internet and digital download services such as Steam has allowed indie games to make a comeback.

Indie games are a boon to an industry that is easily tempted into rehashing sequels and resting on laurels. Now with the creativity and budgets that allow for experimentation, innovative downloadable games such as Minecraft (which recently sold more than 4 million units) finally have a platform to support them. With Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network now selling these games, newer developers have a chance to show their projects to a far wider audience and to encourage innovation throughout the industry.

As for the future, who knows what it holds? Virtual reality has been a goal for years and 3D gaming headsets, though not as commercially popular as a 2D TV, do exist. The rise of the indie developer might signal a back-to-basics approach and the proliferation of social networking games such as FarmVille seems to continue unabated. It’s safe to say that Microsoft and Sony, at least, are working on sequels to their popular consoles and who knows what that might entail?

What’s certain is that gaming is here to stay. No longer (just) the domain of greasy shut-ins, it can only get better.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/games/video-games-here-to-stay-20111202-1o9v2.html#ixzz1fKxGKqH7


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