Alternative title for this blog: Why Mobile is Dumbing Down Our High Tech Industry.
I have to admit it – I am an old PC gamer. I can still remember the first time I met a Cyber Demon (circa 1993).
Id Software’s original Doom PC game primarily led the formation of the first person shooter and more importantly the multi-player gaming phenomena. In those days you took your old 386 Intel PC to your mates house, plugged in the serial cable (SERSETUP.EXE was the executable), and spent 2 hours trying to get two PC’s to “talk”. Then you got the last 30 minutes of the evening to play Doom PVP before you had to go home. Seeing, for the first time, a real player represented in a PC game, was at the time amazing. Those days were awesome. I have to admit the first time you never actually see the Cyber Demon. You first hear him – his large hoofed feet getting closer, and then BLAM!
Doom was followed by Doom II, Heretic, Hexen, and more recently Doom III and my life started to rush by. The games where the best. They were all simply too absorbing. The skill of the developers and designers was most effective, more so than their competitors. Doom was, and is, a high-taction game. It is like flying a jet aircraft, whereas most other PC games in the same genre were more like working a washing machine (e.g. low-taction). This principle, this engagement UI that prioritized ease of use and self evident capability, led me to promote a concept as a supply chain software vendor some years ago, and as a vendor we developed what was at the time, the markets first ever “drag and drop” demand forecasting system. Our competitors at the time, Manugistics and i2 Technologies (SAP and Oracle were not even in the SCP market at the time) had nothing like it.
Doom – Play the part of a sergeant and kill monsters and other bad guys all you want. Copyright id Software
Source: The Good, The Bad, and the E-GU™, American Software, USA, Inc.,1996
But back to the main point of the log. A funny thing happened on the way to the Doom Forum. Looking back I now realize that every 2 or 3 years I would upgrade or replace my PC. I didn’t realize until about the third cycle but my PC upgrade/replacement purchase was tied to the release cycle of Id Software’s related products. In fact, to be precise, I ended up purchasing what was pretty much the largest, strongest, fastest, meatiest PC one could get at the time – each time – every time a new Doom or Doom-baby was launched! PC gaming software forced the PC hardware market to continually develop its capability (memory, disk but mostly graphical memory). The PC’s I had, looking back, were expensive – but they always played the latest Doom or Id Software related game easily. That is no mean feat, believe me. There is a lot of history here – even touching Microsoft and their attempts to get into PC gaming way back, with ActiveX….and later DCOM…
Business actually benefited from this innovation since PC”s suddenly became usable in the workplace, not least due to the ongoing innovation in the PC gaming industry. Anyway, my current PC is about 2 years old. Its liquid cooled. It has 6 cores. It is smoking fast. It is no longer needed to run Excel. It plays Doom III flawlessly. And Doom 4 is now coming…. I can’t wait.
But PC’s are NOT developing at quite the level or rate they used too. Yes, there are numerous FPS games that require high end cards and the like or mega-fast Internet access for MMO combat, but there is a new game afoot that is slowing down the PC development. The gaming developers and publishers are pandering to the mobile market. As they divert more and more money to that dumb platform, the money left to spend on leading edge technology is less and less. There are fewer game releases to the PC platform every year, and more to mobile. There are fewer reasons (i.e. dollars) to develop and innovate at the highest end of PC computing.
So here’s the bottom line: The great interest in developing games for the mobile platform is, I think, diverting some money from ongoing innovation at the highest end of PC gaming. This means less new technology that is breakthrough, and potentially less “trickle down innovation”, to business.
There is a corollary to this blog – where mobile gaming is creating new opportunity. Mobile gaming will never offer the same level of high-taction in terms of visual interaction, but it does create interesting network, even peer-to-peer formats. This is old technology that was hyped in years past, but is coming to the fore again. This is certainly exciting and I can’t wait for this to “trickle down” into enterprise software. I once thought that P2P computing would revolutionize enterprise software. I have a sneaking suspicion it may yet.
First Doom 4 Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ6FUUS5l4M
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