The Year In Review

The Year In Review
The Gaming Industry Beyond Thunderdome

Shannon Drake | 27 Dec 2005 11:02
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If they haven't bought one yet, they will. The cultural penetration is only going to increase, especially when youth-worshipping Boomers turn their eyes to the latest toys of their kids. Fortunately, the tools for hitting this new audience are already in place, they're just being used incorrectly. As it stands, developers are using Swiss Army knives as simple hammers. Half-Life 2 shipped with a groundbreaking physics engine, and after years of development, the most interesting thing anyone could find to do with it was create really advanced crate puzzles - which we've seen for years - and gimmick gravity guns. They spent five years developing a little red Corvette, and now they take it out on the interstate and drive 55 with both hands on the wheel.

Open up your mind for a little bit and possibilities emerge. Imagine the Half-Life 2 engine used with a Lumines model to create a gorgeous casual-oriented puzzle game with to-die-for physics and a triple-A budget because the millions of people that make Bejeweled a hit will play games like that. Imagine MMOGs built around actual social fare and interaction rather than spending 60 hours killing the same monster over and over again, because parents can't schedule their lives around spending 10 hours in a dark cave hoping for a rare drop. How about games where "cooperative play" doesn't mean "two crosshairs on the screen so you can both gun down the hordes of aliens," but it means you have to, you know, cooperate and work together to make something happen? When someone realizes the third dimension is a (forgive me) new direction of its own, instead of just being where you bunny hop to avoid incoming fire, we might even see crazy zero-G sports games. It's a whole new gaming world.

It's not going to happen overnight, but the invisible hand of capitalism doesn't care if your game-jock friends laugh at you for developing a game the regular Joes going Russell Crowe for a 360 will play. Someone's going to look at all those adults with adult salaries buying 360s, run the numbers and realize that adult salaries equal hats made of money. The vanguard of the mainstream is upon us. The hordes are just over the horizon, bringing with them vast changes to our shared gaming culture, and possibly a new golden age of creativity. Onward.

Millionaire playboy Shannon Drake lives a life on the run surrounded by Japanese schoolgirls and video games. He also writes about anime and games for WarCry.

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