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Note to video gamers: get moving

Games that rely on joysticks and buttons are facing competition from aerobic, activity-based titles such as 'Guitar Hero' and 'Wii Sports.'

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Want to be a rock star but can't play a lick? The video-game industry has just the virtual guitar for you. Increasingly, the same kids who usually kill time – and virtual enemies – playing war games are now hefting electronic golf clubs, bowling balls, and musical instruments alongside the simulated AK-47s and hand grenades.

In a marked departure from popular and violent M-rated (for mature) epics, gamers are turning toward intuitive, aerobic, activity-based games such as "Guitar Hero II" for Xbox 360, and "Wii Sports" for Nintendo's new Wii platform, which has sold 6 million units in six months.

Fueling this liftoff from the sofa is what some analysts call a "perfect storm" of trends in the technology and culture of the video-game world: a desire for something new combined with a technology that has come of age.

"There's a sense of shooter fatigue amongst the gaming community right now," says Pete Snyder, CEO of New Media Strategies, a Washington-based trend research firm.

After years of increasingly violent games, players are looking for a change of pace, he adds. Even though E-rated (for everyone) games such as the karaoke game "SingStar" have been around forever – and represent more than half the number of console and PC video games sold in an average year – the Nintendo Wii has "helped make them cool," says Mr. Snyder. The simplicity of these pick-up-and-play games, which are motion-based, appeals to a generation weaned on the iPod.

"These kids expect easy," he adds. "Steve Jobs has ruined it for everyone else."

Beyond that, kids want – and expect – a bigger experience from games these days, says Dustin Hesley, who works at Toy Mandala, a video-game shop in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks.


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