Guess which entertainment industry will soon surpass the movie business? Computer games.
And what's the fastest-growing company in the world? Eidos, an entertainment software developer.
And what's one of the hottest "must buy" products among American kids? Pokmon, a Nintendo video game in which players pit genderless and cute creatures against each other (and parents dish out big money for Pokmon cards, comic books, etc.).
The world's gone to digital gaming, whether it's on a console or PC, or increasingly, on the Internet. It's a $7 billion-plus industry now. Why? The games are more sophisticated, hyperreal, and they're reaching more adults. Sony, with its Playstation game machine, is vying to be people's first entry to the Web.
But guess what? The shoot-'em-up games are losing favor. That's partly because of disgust over the Colum-bine High School shootings. But the industry also finds the nonviolent fantasy games are good enough to appeal to the whole family. Games with simulated violence are a smaller portion of sales - 10 percent and falling.
Electronic escapism has gone from Pac-Man to Pokmon in 20 years. Let's hope the thrill of leisure gamesmanship brings us closer together, and with less zap! gotcha.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society