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Future of video game industry taking shape at GDC
Written by Daniel   
Monday, 18 February 2008 09:49

Future of video game industry taking shape at GDC 

February 18, 2008 4:00 AM PST
Posted by Daniel Terdiman

If ever there was a time for a famous futurist to be giving a keynote address at the Game Developers Conference, this is it.
When Ray Kurzweil, the author of The Singularity is Near and one of the most noted futurists around, takes the stage at GDC 2008 in San Francisco on Thursday to talk about "the next 20 years of gaming," he'll be weighing in at a moment in the industry's existence when the lines between games and Hollywood and advertising are blurring, when the term "gamer" encompasses 75-year-old grandmothers and when the barrier to entry to being a developer has never been smaller.

"I think the Kurzweil keynote should be very interesting," said Ron Meiners, community manager for the virtual world platform developer, Multiverse Network. "He's a very original thinker, and I'm curious as to his take on the gaming industry, how games fit into people's lives, (and) how games are changing people's lives."

One thing that strikes me about how video games are intersecting with people's lives in 2008, and it was made abundantly clear over the Christmas holidays, when it was simply impossible to find a Nintendo Wii for sale anywhere, is that finally, the medium is truly mainstream.

And while there will always be a significant segment of the industry that caters to and is serviced by hard-core gamers, what's becoming evident is that there's almost no one who is left out of what video gaming is today. And for those who are left out, that may not be true as the years progress. I suspect that that is something Kurzweil will touch on, at least briefly.

"It's a very exciting time in the game industry, in that we have this growing recognition of the important of casual and family-oriented content," said Jamil Moledina, the director of GDC. "You're seeing it in the $60 packaged (games) and in the $10 downloads. It's a perfect storm of factors poised to really expand the game industry."

One example of that, Moledina suggested, is the explosion of gamer-created content and social networking in online gamer communities like Microsoft's Xbox Live.

That rationale may well be why GDC's first keynote speaker, on Wednesday, will be Microsoft corporate vice president John Schappert, who will give a talk titled, "A future wide open: Unleashing the creative community."

For Moledina, organizing what is almost certain to be the biggest GDC ever--last year's event drew 16,000 people, he said, and it is expected to grow this year--is a huge job. There are hundreds of panel discussions scheduled, a huge trade show and, as always, GDC will actually be made up of several different events that are linked together throughout the week.

On Monday and Tuesday, the events will include several "summits," such as those on casual games, independent games, game outsourcing, and virtual worlds. As well, there's GDC Mobile, which focuses on games for mobile devices.   [C/net News...]  [Comments...]

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