Video games of the future

Sep 252002
Authors: Dominic Weilminster

Becoming a Super Bowl-worthy quarterback has never been easier, in fact, so has winning a world rally racing championship, not to mention saving the world.

All of these things can be easily balanced to fit into our daily routines at only the minor cost of somewhat calloused fingers.

“I usually can find some time on most average days,” says Dane Whatley, a CSU student who, apart from school and work, also managed to become a Super Bowl champion last week.

However, all of this talk of winning is not to say that loosing is out of the question.

“This is impossible, I can’t win,” says another student, Keith Martin who sighs as yet another World Cup slips from his grasp.

Martin’s grasp, of course though sweaty and calloused, is only so from clutching a game controller. And, as for his loss, well, that’s what memory cards are for.

Whatley and Martin are part of a huge population of video game players accomplishing legendary feats from the comfort of their couch.

According to Chris Hoffman, media relations manager for Working Designs an American video game publishing firm, 36 percent of all game players are between the ages of 18 and 34 and 55 percent are above age 18.

“Speaking only from experience, there are two kinds of game players in college: one being the game enthusiast who plays role playing games and adventure games; and the other type being the more casual gamer who enjoys games that can be played by groups in a more social capacity, like sports games and first-person shooters,” says Hoffman, a “Goldeneye 007” fan during his college years.

Hoffman’s company, Working Designs is one of the key players in bringing video games, many of which are created in Asia, to the American market.

“In our case, we convert all text and audio to English as a basic step, then adapt the interface to be more streamlined and feature less ‘confirmation chain’ button presses,” says Victor Ireland, president of Working Designs. “We sometimes add narrative to fill gaps in the Japanese narration that didn’t translate clearly.”

Ireland’s company, which also makes more game-specific changes such as adding space to save files and adding menu windows, works with some of Japan’s largest game publishers including Sony, SEGA, and Konami. The company adapts around three full games per year and may see up to 200,000 games in a month.

“We approach Japanese publishers about licensing their games. Generally speaking, the amount of money we offer relative to other publishers will determine if we are allowed to publish their game (in the United States),” Ireland says.

The video game market, which, according to Ireland, is expanding in bursts rather than at the chaotic rate of computer technology, allows for more stable competition in many respects and gives companies, like Working Designs the freedom to carefully adapt games to best suit the American market.

Part of the intricacies that Ireland’s company must attend to are computer game ratings issued by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

“The U.S. regulations in general are more strict than just about anywhere else in the world, but are curiously more permissive of violent games (with the proper adult rating) than other countries where such content is banned outright,” Ireland says.

Games available to Americans in, essentially their intended form, are often heavily censored in other countries, such as the case of “Twisted Metal Black” in Australia.

Nevertheless, the American market has been much more cautious about releasing very violent games as a result of youth violence and Sept. 11.

Despite increased regulation, the video game market will continue to evolve and hold its influence within the entertainment world.

“(Gaming systems and) console games will probably continue to follow a generally evolutionary path,” says Ireland who foresees games gaining better graphics, better sound, and becoming more immersive in the future.

“There will be slow proliferation of the Internet into the console gaming world,” Ireland said.

“By the time PlayStation 3 comes out in 2005 or 2006, Sony should have a strong network infrastructure tested and functional from their work on PlayStation 2.”

The future is certainly bright for the computer gaming world, and for companies like Working Designs.

For, as long as there are couches, televisions, and imaginary trophies to be won, the valiant game gladiator, despite irritated fingertips and obvious symptoms of sleep deprivation, will continue to compete.

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