Gamemakers think we'll play along

Sony may be having trouble getting its much-anticipated PlayStation 2 to market on schedule this month. But you can be sure the delayed rollout won't slow the ascent of Gamer Nation.

As with all technology, video-game evolution is stuck in hyperdrive. Consumer expectations keep accelerating, too.

My young son smirked a couple of years ago when I blew the dust off the Atari unit I played with back in the Dark Ages of "Pong."

He and his friends are among the fast-fingered legions of video-game players now accustomed to the rich graphics that spring from 64 bits of memory, at minimum. (Pong used one or two bits. The emerging game standard is 128.)

Today's typical business-type desktop computer, in comparison, uses 32. True, PCs still handle functions not yet addressed by game consoles. Besides, "graphical interface" isn't everything.

But, as our lead story explains, gamemakers appear to be closing the gap in the race for the top "convergence" tool - beginning with a sprint to establish the most user-friendly Internet portal.

In the related world of portable electronics, single-purpose devices - like the Blackberry, for e-mail - still pop up from time to time. But more and more functions seem destined to be crammed into next-generation cellphones.

Is there a do-it-all equivalent for the home? Will a game controller like the fantastic device at right become the ultimate universal remote for the home? Maybe.

Next step: The big players in the video-game world - Nintendo, Sega, Sony - may need to temper competition with cooperation. And figure out how to market to adults who care more about coordinating their in-home technology than fighting off space creatures.

Reach us at work@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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