Game Addiction

by Mike Shea on 6 April 2003

If people think games are addictive now, wait 10 years. As resolution and framerate increase it will be harder and harder to tell the difference between real life and a virtual one. All the technology to create really emersive 3d worlds exists today, just in smaller form. Just as we were all refinancing our houses for 16 megs of ram ten years ago, we will be looking back ten years from now and wondering how we ever lived with 1gb of ram when one terabyte is only $200. We'll be wondering how we ever moved around those giant 21" CRT monitors when most monitors you either wear on your head or roll out like a poster.

The key to a truly emersive game from a technology standpoint is framerate, resolution, and interface. Keyboards are just lousy interfaces but systems like the Xbox learned to use voice for communication and ergonomic controllers for interaction. Anyone who's played Halo knows how easy it is to fall into the game and forget you are dorking around with a curved plastic box.

Persistent games like Everquest, games where you are always the same character, let you truly live another life. Unlike Quake or Mech Assault where lives last less than five minutes, Everquest and other MMORPGs give you a life that lasts as long as you are willing to pay $12 a month. The only risk is tendonitis and maybe divorce.

As systems get cheaper, displays get better, bandwidth gets faster, interfaces get more usable, and game designs get stronger, we will all be addicted to one game or another. Is this a bad thing? No. Online gaming brings people together. It allows communication to bridge oceans, income gaps, languages, social status, disabilities, self consciousness, and age. If I had a child above the age of ten, I would not only allow them to play online games, I would play with them. Muggles would be surprised at how much a kind can learn from 2000 other people.

Like every other knee-jerk reaction to violence and sex in video games, movies, music, and television, the real key is education. Take that time you would normally spend writing your idiotic congressman and sit down with your kid for a while.

What I learned in this article:

Video game addiction is going to get stronger as resolution, framerate, bandwidth, and usable interfaces improve. Don't fight video game addiction. Work with it. Learn from it. Don't try to change the world, educate your kids instead.Sidebar. What technologies does Mike dream of?1600x1200 DLP display the size of a pack of smokes. 1600x1200 wearable display that doesn't make you throw up. A world without QWERTY keyboards. 1GB stable over-air global bandwidth for a fixed monthly cost of about $50. Use for phone, data, video, audio, internet, gaming. 3ghz processor, 1gb ram, 128meg video, 100gb HD in a box the size of a deck of playing cards. A single box telephone, pager, word processor, mp3, dvd, web browser, gaming, HDTV, radio, portable system that uses the 1gb over-air network and either the eye-glass display or the pack-of-smokes DLP projector. The little AI Kumiko carried around in Mona Lisa Overdrive. A cheeseburger.

Send comments to mike@mikeshea.net or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.