Friday, 1 April 2011

Computer Game History: Millenium Edition (2000s-current)

The final part of this gaming history research, carries itself into the 21st century, in which we all live in now. Wikipedia explains it as the sixth generation of video game consoles which include Sega’s Dreamcast, Sony’s PlayStation 2, Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube. These consoles had a good few years before they hit the hay and production stopped for even bigger improvements. Sega unfortunately lasted a mere 4 years in Europe from release in 1998 and that was the end of Sega consoles as we knew it. Despite being the first sixth generation console to release, it made the least sales. After that came GameCube, then Xbox then the prodigious ps2 which still sells today.

Aside from facts and figures, changes during this generation had major publishers creating a cross-platform strategy, releasing games for major consoles, pc and sometimes handhelds. This is a wise and obvious choice if you want to maximise revenue and ignore even more console war debates. You still get comparison and performance wars but I say that’s just becoming too picky and would not apply to single console owners. Some publishing companies also merged with competitors.

As games grew more realistic and began to contain many references to real life, issues of sex, crime and violence were more so raised than older generation games and lawmakers took actions against the video game industry overall. A stand-out game regarding this is Grand Theft Auto:  San Andreas, the bestselling PlayStation 2 game of its time shipping over 19 million copies. GTA games Vice City and Manhunt, both by Rockstar games, faced lawsuits over racial slurs and minors being influenced into crime while San Andreas had sexual references and an adult rating. I think it makes sense because despite age ratings and parents being responsible for keeping minors from all this, a large amount, maybe even the majority of children with a PS2 are going to see or have these games bought for them by parents and it is worrying if children become hooked to a characters dangerous lifestyle within a fictional game. However games should not be the only reason for possible increases in crime. It could be other factors such as the setting a child lives, or real life movies of course sometimes being a more realistic representation of life not to mention higher accessibility to movies due to the fact that DVD players by this time were very cheap and film prices over games. Real life humans in movies, music artists will have more effect obviously because they are role models to the younger generation.

Now onto the current consoles, deemed the Next Generation of gaming with the introduction of next gen consoles, the PlayStation3(2006), Xbox 360(2005), Nintendo Wii(2006), Nintendo DS series(2004), PSP (2004) and what is now becoming a solid gaming franchise, the iPod/iPhone. Many new discoveries of advanced technology began to change gaming from just pressing buttons and watching on your fishbowl TV. New technology implemented includes, widescreen High Definition display for crisper visuals, motion sensing within controllers (the biggest selling point for the Wii), camera detection, online gaming and so on. Gamers are starting to split into hardcore and casual categories and games have begun to explode the media and entertainment industry, even beating movies. Much more money is spent on developing games and teams increase in numbers for more specific jobs as demand for certain desires increase due to the higher power and processing the consoles can perform. More and more reviewers posting scores for new games add pressure and sometimes make the decisions for whether customers want to buy them or not.

Relationships between developers and publishers changed when funding increased with the process of games. Developers wanted to create innovative, original games based of their love of gaming in which new game ideas were considered successful whereas publishers push for large returns and a small success is not enough for them if it is for pride. They would rather write off new ideas and demand sequels and licensed promotions like movies. If it gets better results I say that is okay but encourage more original games. I will expand on this however in my later blog tasks and end these interesting points here.


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