Gaming is popular with teenagers, women, children, as well as men. Older people say they play games as it alleviates loneliness and puts them in contact with others. Statistics reveal that 41% of gamers are women and more than 43 % gamers are aged 25-49. And, research predicts that the games market in 2005 will be US$ 29 billion.
Players can choose between stored games and online games. Stored games are played on consoles while online games are played on a computer using either a broadband or dial up Internet connection. The growth in online gaming according to IDC, a research firm, is set to touch 256 million users by 2008. And, that gaming is serious business is conformed by the hosting of international conferences devoted to gaming and the formation of “Casual Games Special Interest Group.”
Gaming captures the imagination of the players and uses the senses: sight, sound, as well as touch. Many need the use of intelligence as well as strategy. Complex graphics, colors, high quality virtual realities are all set to grab as well as hold the attention of players. Multi-player gaming takes the interest to the next level –offers challenges as well as new horizons to be conquered.
Games played on the Internet are such that clever participants find ways to push the game beyond its visible limits, one can even device cheats to circumvent problems posed by the game. Games test the skills, intelligence, concentration ability as well as techie know how.
Online gaming architecture has six business aspects: the subscriber; the advertiser; the gaming platform provider; the broadband service provider; the network service provider; and the gaming content provider. It is big business—hardware revenues in 2005 are expected to be: US$ 9.4 billion with software and content revenue touching US$16.9 billion.
However, there is a downside, gaming can become addicted and affect normal life—kids stop studying, housewives neglect their daily routine, and people are tempted to play games even at work. It can lead to suicides, mental imbalance as well as destroy marriages and careers. Gamers become recluses and rarely make social contact outside their gaming groups.
Addiction studies indicate that gaming can result in: obsession, neglect, lying, socially unacceptable behaviors, carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, neglect of personal hygiene, as well as sleep disorders.
Popular gaming sites include: MSN games which has 3.4 million monthly registered users ; Pogo which has 8.6 million monthly registered users; and Yahoo games which has 10.1 million registered monthly users.
Analysts predict that by 2007 online gaming will be at least 285 petabits a month, the revenue generated by online subscriptions for gaming is expected to reach US$ 650 million annually.
The future according to Peter Molyneux, is in developing games that “reward a player for “out of the box” thinking and creativity. Games must encourage players to be interactive and decide the direction the game will take.