Sometimes I think I am losing it. Stuff is happening that I thought, at one time, would never happen. But, here we are, a bunch of old farts starting to discover video games. Now, understand, when I say old farts, I am referring to people in their fifth, sixth and seventh decade. One has to wonder what that will mean to the future of the gaming industry, much less to the future of civilization. Will Gramps turn into a rapist or a murderer?
But what in the world makes me think, or even believe, that these old farts will indeed get interested in the industry?
Well, for starters, I have taken note of the incredible growth in three basic areas of our world:
One: the monstrous growth of Facebook. Wander through that world anytime of day or night and you will find the most amazing things. An incredible number of those involved are not kids, they are people who seem to miss their childhoods and want to reconnect with others that helped make them whatever the heck they have become. I mean who cares what your grandkids look like, or what they did on their birthdays?But there they are, bragging about it on Facebook.
Two: monstrous growth of YouTube. It is here we get to share our lives through photos and video with about a billion others who really don’t really give a damn about our lives, but we do get to experience our moment of fame, not even 15 minutes worth, even if we look like jackasses, but what the heck.
Three: the amazing growth of the Wii (Reuters reported that 800,000 Wiis were sold over the past Thanksgiving weekend). Now, the preponderance of games sold on this system are those that are sports and exercise related. Sometime, when you want to be amused, count the number of people you know in their fifth, sixth and seventh decade who have purchased a Wii because they want to keep in shape?Huh?It is truly amusing, and even a bit amazing to imagine this world of wrinkles and belly fat attacking a tennis court on the screen. One of my friends actually blew out her elbow trying to slam one back against her opponent. Besides the elbow, the game paddle flew out of her hand and broke crashing against the television.
Many game developers truly believe the future of video games is all about casual, social games that women and grandparents like to play. Frankly, that blows my mind. And after years of trying to convince us that video games will turn us into monsters, some are claiming, “aw, we were just kidding.” Some time ago, during a keynote interview at a Microsoft-hosted event in Mt. View, CA , the so called “King of Content,” Bernie Stolar, while discussing the future of video game development, claimed that hardcore games like Grand Theft Auto will still have a place in the industry, but they will likely be relegated to a dark corner ofthe industry… now that’s a comment to give one pause.
Apparently, games now need to be FUN (as if they aren’t already) in order to be considered mainstream in the future. In addition, they need to be more gender and age directed. Either the old farts are taking over… or, it is possible, this generation grew up on video games and is in the process of changing the industry. This movement has even been given a name, it is referred to as social gaming (whatever the heck that means).Now if that doesn’t excite all the game developers out there, I don’t know what will. For one thing, if true (which I doubt by the way, but my opinion and a buck won’t buy a cup of coffee anymore) it will have expanded the market AND the demographics of the industry. According to Stolar’s remarks:
- Gaming will move away from 18-35 year old men
- Games will be increasingly attractive to females (becoming over 50% of the market)
- And the number of grandparents playing games will increase, though many will be playing their games on Facebook, which now has a gaming platform
Good grief, has the world gone mad?
Even more relevant, because Cloud computing (the monster in the shadows) reduces retail and packaging costs, it increases the lifespan of a game as well as its accessibility. So, developers, better get your heads screwed on right, Gramps and Granny are taking over; you better start to think about what will turn them on – and take my word for it, it’s more than mediocre party games and sports simulators. Those things are great, but even we elder generations like to be told a good story or experience a grand adventure now and then. Just try to make them a little less insipid and adolescent and you’ll see us flock to the Best Buy.
Frankly, as I said earlier, I doubt this will come to pass in the near term, but by gosh, it would be great if it did. For one thing it will cause people, including lawyers from Florida, to learn a great deal more about video games before blaming them for turning our kids into murderers, thieves and rapists. Sure is fun to grow old!