Tuesday, 17 October 2006 06:00

Gamer! Off that couch.

Over the past couple of years, the stereotype of your average gamer has been under attack.  No longer is it safe to assume that the pasty, overweight, teenage male, you see picking up a pizza for one and 2 litre coke, is just getting supplies for his tilt at a marathon gaming session, exercising only his thumbs in front of a flickering screen, surrounded by the detritus of ignored housekeeping.


With the advent of innovations like Dance Dance Revolution, the Eye-toy and Singstar microphone peripheral to get people off the couch.  Add some expansion in thinking on behalf of game designers to draw in casual gamers, with titles like Guitar Hero, Play and the Buzz quiz series.  The “party game” is beginning to hit its stride.

I was sceptical at first.  I remember thinking that the push by the big three console developers to make their particular box-o-fun the “entertainment hub” of the household, was doomed to failure.  No Dad is going to allow the main Tele to be overtaken by people jumping around making virtual burgers, not when the footy is on.
No Mum is going to let her young daughter be dragged into the realm of the evil electronic gaming world, heck! Just the other day, wasn’t there a story on Today-Tonight about some kid caught ransacking an entire retirement village of its electric people scooters, and then, as usual, blaming it on playing too much Grand Theft Auto?

ImageYet, it does seem to be taking hold.  Given the right situation, I find, if you can arrange an impromptu gathering for no reason what so ever, then pay off Thor and the other fickle weather gods early, to ensure a healthy thunderstorm, to keep people indoors. Maybe provide the odd chosen beverage or two.  It doesn’t take much for people to be jumping around in the living room, waving their hands madly, popping virtual bubbles on screen.

It is the novelty factor for some, curiosity overwhelming inhibitions, coupled with the accessibility of pick-up-and-play styling of these games that first attract the wary.
Overcoming the popular negative stereotype is easy from that point on.  Soon fun, competitiveness and the sheer social aspect take over.

Eye-toy Kinetic, from earlier this year, offered a fun addition to those with a bent for physical activity already.  Being less accessible than other game orientated offerings mentioned in this article, it was still an example of a healthy outa-ya-couch mentality beginning to pervade the gamer Psyche.

Of course the moneymaking aspect of this has not escaped the delivers of this content.  Already we see the impending launch of Guitar Hero II, on expanded platform fronts - I will be first in line when that bundle hits the shelves mid November.  Allowing us to continue to live out our rock god dreams, in front of an –imagined-, huge, seething audience.

Oct 26 will see the release of the XBOX Live Vision camera for the X360, freeing the Microsoft fan-boys from numb-bum syndrome.

ImageAnd then there is the big one.  The Wii and it’s fantastic – hopefully fully utilised – Wiimote. Even Call of Duty 3 will have you out of your seat, Nunchuck in hand, blasting Nazis. Come this December 7th, who will not be dressed in overbright sports gear, ready to take on all comers in Wii sports?  Tennis, Golf, Baseball, Bowling and Boxing (!)  I am ready to whip all those that step into the Lounge Room Arena.


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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.



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