The traditional notion that computer games belong only in a mans world is
being challenged by women gamers. Not only are they just playing games but also
creating new technology that will take gaming to the next level.
Computer games are for kids and may be for teenagers too. Okay, men are also
allowed to play without getting any flak. But not for mature women with work
responsibilities and family pressures? Especially, not women in their 30s and
abovemarried or single. It is okay for a thirty something woman to apply age
defying makeup, control her diet to look younger while juggling family and
career. But gaming is considered too self indulgent! At least, this is the
unwritten social rule but increasingly women are finding gaming therapeutic as
it is proving to be a stress combatant. Women in technology are working towards
breaking social stereotypes about gaming and technology for the next level of
Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry. One of the pioneers was Roberta
Williams whose company, Sierra (now acquired by Vivendi) first came up with the
King Quest Series that had people of all ages engrossed into it. She quickly
turned it into a multi-million dollar franchise and proved gaming could rake in
millions. We have come a long way since then but the Indian slice in the gaming
industry pie is extremely limited. Hopefully, this will change with more people
realizing the potential of the revenue that can be generated by a good game.
The future of gaming is dependent on new technology that gives a new
experience to the gamer and its ability to address the issues of loneliness,
community, and interactions. One of the most promising inventions that might
revolutionize the gaming industry is the illusion transmitter. Invented and
patented by Valerie Thomas in the US in the 1980s, what this device does is take
2D images and project them as 3D images into your home. Say, we are playing a
game on the computer, using this technology, we would get the illusion that the
characters, the tools, the background and all the images are in our room. Add to
this sound and music, and it will make a great experience. This not only makes
it more interactive but also gives the experience of actually being one of the
characters, especially in role-playing games. One can walk into the gaming world
and interact with the characters. In multi-player games, this becomes more
interesting as one can interact with other real humans by talking to them in
real-time and even get the family to play it. Even something like simple arcade
games will become more attention grabbing while action and adventure games will
become packed with live-action and seem to be out of this world. Can you imagine
having The Mummy in your living room and fighting off the zombies and villains
or build wonders, train armies and fight mythical monsters like those in the Age
of Mythology or Rise of Nations? The illusion transmitter promises to change the
face of gaming as our virtual worlds are brought into our living rooms and one
does not need to go online in search of them. It also makes it more physical and
one doesnt have to stay glued to the monitor screen. It is akin to the
scenarios shown in the Hollywood movies like Spy Kids or Matrix trilogy except
we are not plugged in. In short, the distinction between games and real worlds
will vanish with this technology and one can play the game as if you are living
in that world.
However, this is just one technology and there are several others like
sensors that transmit senses of smell and touch to the gaming experience.
With so many revolutionary technologies available, one may ask why it isnt
already here. This is due to various factors.
Hardware: While platforms have come a long way from the Atari game, we need
to get hardware compatibility on computers and gaming consoles that will be able
to support technologies like the illusion transmitter, so the gaming experience
is enhanced. We must develop hardware that supports and is compatible with the
illusion transmitter. It is expected this will be available in a year or two.
Cost: The history of gaming industry has seen high prices to offset
development costs in the initial stages after which the price of games dropped.
Similarly, the future of gaming is bound to get expensive initially, as
companies will be spending massive amounts to create the content and develop
platforms that can support new technologies. While initially, the price will be
high, mass demand is bound to pull down the prices later. However, if companies
that produce the hardware decide to go in for exclusive platforms and special
consoles instead of upgrading existing platforms like the computer, then it is
bound to fail. This is because people prefer to invest in platforms like
computers as they have multiple functionality and are not for games only. This
will increase the ability of gaming companies to sell their products to the mass
Censorship: With the older generation blaming the attitudinal problems of the
current generation on gaming and new technologies, it would be tough to get them
to accept illusion transmitters and other new technologies. Look at the way many
try to link violent acts of youth to their playing violent or action games.
Anti-violence activists and criminal lawyers say games are the root of all evils
in society! Listening to them, one would think before games like Mortal Kombat,
earth was a peace haven and the various wars, mass killings and the two world
wars never took place. Even though there is no proof to show a direct connection
between violent acts and games, many blindly advocate censorship and banning of
games. Games have become an easy scapegoat for negligent parenting and
irresponsibility of the adults. They need to understand that though their
generation watched violent movies, it didnt make them all go on killing sprees.
Political Opposition: Since the older adults comprise a larger vote bank in
several developed countries, when the vote bank demands censorship, the
politicians oblige, as most of them dont understand new technology, especially
virtual worlds. With technologies like illusion transmitter blurring the
boundary between the actual and the virtual worlds, the reaction of most is to
condemn it as bad. Political opposition is more likely as it is easier to blame
an increase in crime rate or any social problem on games rather than exploring
the true root causes that takes time and money.
The future of gaming is promising and the way ahead is like an exciting
obstacle course as it has been in the past. However, one thing is for surethe
next level would be more exhilarating than the current one!