New video games target you

Something new is happening in the video game world. Though you may not have noticed it yet, you have probably already begun to see it in television and internet advertising. The commercials for Sony’s new Play Station Portable (PSP) reveal the fresh trend: video games are targeting you.

The aforementioned commercials feature images of many people playing the PSP, ranging from teenagers to college students to white collar workers, male and female, representing virtually every ethnic group. Gone are the days when console video games were just for kids, college guys and men who never really grew up. The video game industry is trying to change itself to appeal to everyone — men, women and children.

Last week, at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, representatives from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo unveiled the next line of console gaming systems to the press. Microsoft presented the Xbox 360, Sony revealed the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo introduced a new console system — the Revolution — which will feature family-friendly games. On all three, the technology had reached new heights; the systems were more compact, the graphics were amazingly lifelike and the sound was clearer. Surprisingly, the recurring theme throughout the conference was not the advances in technology, as it has been in years past. Instead, the focus of the convention was on expanding the audiences for video games.

With each new generation of console systems, the stakes rise. In the most recent generation of consoles, Sony sold over 75 million PlayStation 2 consoles (answers.com) and Microsoft sold nearly 30 million Xbox consoles (thestreet.com). This time around, video game console manufacturers are doing everything they can to try and reach more people than ever before.

How serious are the competitors in the newest generation of video game consoles? J Allard, head of Microsoft’s Xbox development, predicted last week that Microsoft’s marketing efforts for the soon-to-be Xbox 360 would lead to over a billion people playing games on the units (thestreet.com) That’s right … nearly one-sixth of the world’s population.

Video game companies are aiming higher than ever, and are continually producing new types of games to try and appeal to broader audiences. Nintendo’s new system will debut with "Nintendogs," a pet simulator that is targeted at entire families (source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7886007). Video game producers no longer want to merely appeal to males under 34; now, they want to appeal to everyone. Many games are being produced that are supposed to appeal to women, or replace board games to try and bring families closer together.

Not only are new games being produced, but new technologies are being researched to continue to advance video games. The Sony PS3 promises to be many times more powerful than the PS2. In fact, the graphics of the new generation of systems claim to be on par with that of DVD movies (MSNBC).

Where will the research and technological advancements lead in the future? On April 7, 2005, the Sony Corp. was granted a patent (U.S. Patent: 6,729,337) for a system that will allow sensory information to be directly beamed into one’s brain (www.newscientist.com). Pulsing ultrasonic signals will be used to alter neural timing in a person’s cortex, causing the subject to taste, smell, touch or see whatever the computer is programmed to send. It has been suggested this new technology will not only be used in video games, but also may provide cures for blindness and deafness. Then again, maybe the Matrix is a lot closer than we think.

Don’t start worrying yet, though — that technology is still very far from being complete or ready for testing on people. On the other hand, the new video game consoles are complete, finished and ready to market — to you. The video game companies are making huge efforts in marketing and advertising, trying hard to reach you — whoever you may be. So, why not give them a chance? Sit down, grab a controller and join in on the fun.

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Title: New video games target you | Author: Colin MacGregor | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-05-25 | Internal ID: 4555