It is amazing to witness just how exactly technology has an impact on our everyday lives. We can traverse the globe in great metal flying machines that can take us anywhere we want in a matter of hours. Our food lasts longer in the fridge and on the shelf than ever before, and we are enjoying all manner of different tastes. We can communicate with one another over literally nothing more than thin air instantaneously. It seems that there are no longer any borders, any true dividing lines. We are becoming one shared and united cultures, with similar ideals and points of contention. Technology has done wonders for truly uniting certain aspects of the human experience. It is easier than ever in this day and age to see just how similar we are, no matter where we might have originally grown up. There can be no borders, it seems.
Video game technology, as much as any other piece of technology might be, advances in such a way as to unite and inspire others. For the longest time, it has been the consoles that have dominated the gaming experience, gamers tethered to machines and physical media. Of course, downloadable content and the personal-computing aspect of gaming were contenders, sure. However, it is not until now that we have truly been able to do away with a physical media and move into the future. The future that we speak of is, of course, cloud computing. More specifically, it is cloud gaming, the on-demand experience that gamers seem to crave. For more information, please visit Kotaku.
We live in a world where nothing, absolutely nothing, stands still. This is not merely accounting for the fact that we have around-the-clock businesses and services. This is a certain aspect, sure, but there is a little bit more to it than just that. Change is around us at all times, around us and throughout us all. We change not only as people as time goes on, but witness changes to our environment every single day. Popular fads come and go in the blink of an eye. A tragedy one day evolves into a triumph the next. Sports championships are won and lost and contested and won all over again. Even down to the cellular and atomic levels, there is no such thing as a static moment. It can be argued that the only constant in this life is indeed that it will change at some point. Some changes are radical, some are subtle. Some are necessary while some happen without need or warning. That is just the way things work sometimes.
In the technology field, change is not only a constant but also a great necessity. With the way the world progresses and changes, our technology must keep up. Everything needs to evolve somehow or else it ceases to be relevant, and this is doubly true for the tech world. Take video games, for instance. Every five years or so, we see a shift in the paradigm: new consoles, new titles, and new technology for us to play with. Now, it seems that this shift is starting anew. GameStop, the biggest video game retailer in the world, has announced plans to manufacture a tablet PC in an effort to bring gaming to the tablet world. For more information, please visit IT World.
It is no secret that online distribution of media, all types of media, is becoming a powerhouse. Customers are steadily making the switch from physical brick-and-mortar retail outlets to buying and selling media over an Internet connection. In fact, it is such that certain types of digital distributors are actually making more money and becoming more and more popular than their physical, tangible alternatives. Companies such as Tower Records and Blockbuster Video are just a few of the more recent casualties in the move to digital distribution. It is an oft-cited quote that “those who cannot adapt are destined to perish,” to paraphrase from scientific literature. As such, it can be seen that the aforementioned companies were unable or unwilling to adapt to a digital distribution business model. It seems that this lesson is not lost on some companies.
GameStop, the largest video game retailer in the world, is easing itself into the digital era. The company has recently acquired two digital gaming distribution houses, Spawn Labs and Impulse, in an effort to achieve the rare hybrid of physical and digital media distribution. It will not be the first time digital and physical were set together in a cooperative model rather than a competitive one, but this is the first such experiment for the gaming industry. Spawn Labs will allow GameStop users to stream and play games directly to their consoles or systems. Impulse, however, is in the business of selling downloadable games to users. For more information, please visit Games Beat.
Digital marketing and digital retail are quickly becoming facets of our culture. Now, nearly every one of you reading this right now has utilized an Internet marketplace such as Amazon, Craigslist or eBay to buy or sell goods. This is now a staple of the Internet experience, yes, but it is not exactly what we are talking about here. No, we are talking digital proliferation of the product, a full business exchange that sees payment for services or products rendered alongside the actual delivery of the product. Many media outlets, such as Hulu and Netflix, provide this for free or for a nominal fee. Streaming content and members-only exclusives are quickly becoming a popular aspect of the television and film marketing world. As well, even books and literary content have seen a move toward this method of operation, with eReaders such as the nook and the Kindle. It seems that the wave of the future will be an on-demand one.
Now, that leaves many with one question: where are video games in this whole mess? Well, they are getting in on the fun as well. Platforms such as Steam and OnLive have pioneered the delivery of streaming video games over the Internet. As well, services such as Xbox Live Arcade have allowed users to download titles to their machines for some time. These moves were seen by many as the beginning of the death-knell of physical video game sales. However, the old adage ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ is certainly apt in the situation regarding GameStop. The popular video game retailer has recently unveiled a move toward streaming video game content, including from their stories via kiosks.
There are a few constants in this life. One of the most prevailing is that things cannot stand still. No matter where you turn or where you happen to be during this turning-around, you will find that everything around you is changing. Mountains are eroding as trees attempt to scrape the heavens with the return of every spring and summer season. People grow up, buildings rise and fall, as does the economy, and we all bear witness to the changing of time. As we do this, we also witness the rise and fall of different technologies, endemic to the needs and wants of the general public and of industry. These, too, change over time, and are far from static entities. However, if we recognize where change can happen and attempt to deal with how our day-to-day will change, we can embrace change with open arms.
Technology is an ever-changing entity. In fact, right now the consumer market can be said to be changing from a ‘ground computing’ model, where your computer stores everything you might need, to a cloud computing experiences, where everything is on-demand, accessed via third-party hosting. Yes, it seems likely that one day our Internet experience will be a streaming, on-demand endeavor, where computers are merely kiosks. However, what does this spell for the future of gaming? There has been great speculation as the cloud model has been tested in this industry via endeavors such as OnLive. Is it apt to say that console-based gaming is dead and/or dying? That is a question that will take some time to rectify, not a simple yes-or-no situation.
Every indication of the future of technology, at least in the consumer sense, is pointing toward the cloud. What is the cloud, you say? Imagine that every program on your computer, all of your data and settings and preferences, were being stored not on the computer you are usuing, but on third-party servers thousands of miles away. In this way, the entire computing experience is on-demand, with every computer becoming something of a kiosk, a way to access everything that you need whenever you need it. While some privacy issues have understandably come up, there is a great deal to be excited about here. Companies such as Google and Amazon are testing the waters of this new technology and it seems that the public is warming up to the idea of an on-demand computing and Internet experience.
As well, the world of gaming is setting up to be the next big adopter of the cloud computing trend. OnLive, an on-demand gaming service that stores and renders games on cloud servers, streaming games directly to the user over the Internet. Introduced in the summer of 2010, OnLive has gained quite the reputation for having not only impressive service and an expanding array of titles, but also for a lack of technical issues that would be endemic to a streaming service. Expect to hear a great deal more about this service as 2011 draws on, as over 20 video game publishers (such as Warner Bros and Ubisoft) have struck deals to present their games over OnLive.