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Games Entertainment

More Than Half of the US Plays Videogames 85

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-lot dept.
The newest NPD numbers pass on a heartening statistic about the adoption of games: more than half of the US population plays videogames via some method. "Most people said that per week, they're either playing just as many or less hours than they did last year. Thirty percent said that they play more than a year ago, while another 30 percent said they play less and 40 percent say that they play the same amount of hours. Males aged 18-34 continue to be the heaviest gamers and are more attracted to hardcore games as opposed to casual games."
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More Than Half of the US Plays Videogames

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  • by nlawalker (804108) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:30PM (#21689708)
    A console has a predefined set of hardware (sans hard storage - as in, you can get a 360 with or without a hard drive, but they all have the same guts), a PC doesn't. By "predefined," I don't mean that the hardware conforms to a set of standards, I mean that every GameBox out there has hardware that behaves in the exact same way. If a developer can get a GameBox's hardware to do backflips in order to render some crazy scene, they can publish that code in a game, and it will work on every GameBox. Additionally, a console is streamlined to play games - gaming may not be its only purpose, but I can't think of a console where you can't just slap a game in and play. The same can't be said for PCs - the developers have to adhere to a set of standards, and the owner/user has to make sure that the everything is in place on their machine in order to play a game correctly. PC hardware is fairly standardized, but no two people have exactly the same installation of Windows. This is why console games get better looking over the life of a console - developers figure out how to better utilize what they're given, and what they're given never changes. PC game developers don't have this kind of optimization in mind because the hardware ALWAYS gets better.

    Not having enough money to afford all the consoles does not make you "fake" or "shallow," but defending your choice of a single console by screaming about it at the top of your lungs on the Internet does. You wouldn't be fanboying (ooh, I like that as a verb) if you owned every console on the market because a) You'd have games coming out of your ears and b)You wouldn't have to defend your choice.

    Let's take John, a make-believe guy. John is enamored with the anonymity the Internet provides (we all are - if you use the Internet, you enjoy its anonymity in one way or another), and he happens to be a person that has a lot of time to play games and surf the Internet. John has $650 to spend on a console and games. He decides to spend it on a GameBox and a couple of games, which bars him from buying any other consoles because he doesn't have enough money. John cares deeply about the success of the GameBox as opposed to the other consoles because it's the one he owns, and he wants to see it get all the best games, so he posts trollish statements all over Internet message boards about it. He does this because he is insecure about his purchase, even if it's just that touch of buyer's remorse that everyone gets when they make an expensive purchase, regardless of how much they enjoy it. John is known around these parts as a "console fanboy."

    What John needs to realize is that a) his statements make no difference to anyone, and b) that if the GameBox actually did "win the war" and wiped all of the other consoles off the face of the planet, it would probably be a raw deal for everyone who plays console games because the lack of competition would result in a dearth of innovation.

    There's a lot of condescending talk about enjoying video games for the graphics, or Wii games just for the controls, or PC games just for the online components, but it's a valid reason to enjoy a game or a set of games. Who am I to say that you're stupid because you only enjoy games with good graphics; it's like saying you're stupid because you don't like pepperoni pizza. Maybe you only enjoy shooters, and so having that gigantic monitor for your souped-up PC makes sense, and the mouse/keyboard control set really does make the most sense for you. The people who like games mostly for their graphics are the luckiest among us - the graphics are always going to get better, up until we've got VR implants and can't tell the difference between reality and a realistic video game. What a fun hobby you must enjoy, seriously. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for quality, innovative gameplay, new control methods, new genres enabled by new technology, etc. There will always be shovelware. Those qualities in games are becoming more rare than "teh grafix," and discussing and debating them is more subjective.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @07:27PM (#21690554)
    ...as far as I know, there's roughly a 50/50 split between males & females, in terms of U.S. population. Now I'm pretty sure that this doesn't mean that the entire male population plays video games, though by all accounts, males DO make up the majority. Even so, if an estimated 2/3 of video game players are males, that leaves an AMAZING amount of girl gamers!

    I don't believe, though, that most people in that study were gamers in the typical sense... those who play console or PC games. I believe a large number of those people would fall into the casual gamer category, mostly because of games that happen to be accesable on their Portable Electronic Device of Choice(TM). Without those "just-happen-to-be-there" diversions, I don't think they'd be counted as gamers.
  • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @08:00PM (#21691014) Homepage Journal

    Of course you may only have one game on one screen so several people playing at the same time gets rough on said keyboards trying to out control the others

    I have one PC, one 27" composite CRT monitor, and three players, and I connect three input devices through a USB hub. When these devices are gamepads, a game using DirectInput can tell which device a particular button press came from. But when these controllers are keyboards, Windows funnels all their events into one DirectInput device. Other people have reported better results using Linux-based operating systems, but as of 2007, the commercial game market for Linux lacks economies of scale compared to Windows and the lockout-chipped platforms.

    But my point is that games designed for gamepads have their place, including family parties, and it is unfortunate that the vast majority of them are released exclusively on lockout-chipped platforms.

  • by nlawalker (804108) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:28PM (#21692010)
    I'm not quite sure how your questions here tie in to what all the posts above were about (thought we were talking more about fanboyism, stupid arguments, etc.) but maybe I didn't read closely enough. Regardless, it's an interesting topic, so I'll bite.

    By lockout chips, are you referring to the mechanisms that keep an average Joe can't develop and sell games for a console? Looking at your second question, I imagine so.

    I don't see how having a fixed set of hardware has anything to do with having a lockout chip. That aside - I'm not entirely sure how all the lockout mechanisms work (I'm pretty sure that they're implemented through software/BIOS now instead of on a chip, like the infamous NES lockout chip) or how all the money moves around the industry, but I'm pretty sure that console manufacturers put in these mechanisms for two reasons. A) It gives them control over what gets published on the system in terms of quality and content (so our average Joe can't make a 360 game that says "Microsoft and Xbox suck donkey balls" and distribute it). As far as I know, they don't exercise this control often, but if they wanted to they could. B) Those mechanisms are there so the integrity of the console can be guaranteed. Once you mod a 360, it's technically not a 360 anymore, because it doesn't do exactly what a 360 can do (it likely does more). That lockout mechanism will essentially scream bloody murder that it's been modded. Maybe it will do it in such a way that some software doesn't care, but it still means a lot to the manufacturer because it lets them do things like control what machines are allowed on their gaming network and control piracy. This also works to the advantage of the average end user: no modders on XBox Live means no cheaters, and no piracy means cheaper games (theoretically). Additionally, it also protects the identity of a product in the marketplace - Microsoft doesn't want there to effectively be multiple versions of the 360, which would happen if mod chips were easy, legal and allowed on XBox Live.But most importantly, the mechanisms are there so C) the manufacturer can make sure that there is a contract in place for every distributer so that they get a bit of money for every game sold. I'm pretty sure this is how it works, but not completely - please correct me if I'm wrong. It's my understanding that for every game a publisher sells, Microsoft gets some cash from that sale.

    Games and consoles are sold on a free market (I speak from the US). Unfortunately, that doesn't mean "everyone is free to do whatever they want with their hardware, mod it up, make games, etc." What it does mean is that Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft/whoever else is free to sell a machine that locks out stuff they don't want on it, and under our laws they can prosecute anyone who defeats that lockout mechanism. They can also refuse to support a modified device, and declare a warranty void if the machine is tampered with in a way that they don't like. This topic always irritates me when people complain that their awesomely modded console can't connect to the game network or can't receive updates anymore. You can hack up that console all you want in your own home and I don't think anyone is going to break down your door to stop you, but that XBox Live network you're trying to connect to? That's Microsoft's network, not yours, and so is the update software you want to get from them. They are free to do whatever they want with it, including blocking your machine that, now modded, is technically no longer a 360.

    What "free market" also means is that although a small subset of people may recognize your game as unique and innovative, if it doesn't sell well, the people that the money goes to aren't going to be happy about it, even if you don't care.

    Now don't get me wrong - as for your second question, it's a shame that hobbyists can't develop games on console platforms. I wish they could. I do believe that not allowing them to is a block to innovation in video games, but not as big as the block that a lack of com

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