Scenario 3: Big Brother, new chances

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The gaming industry has become a bigger industry than the movie industry; we can all see the shift towards a more attractive market and growing market full of diverse users of the gaming console we know today. Imagine a world where the gaming industry has such influence on the world that they become more powerful than any other industry we know to have influence on our youth, in which the games play a central role. It will become the new mass media in the future. In this future we can see that there is a major consolidation between the gaming and movie industry. When this happens the games will be more popular than ever and everyone will like to have as much games as he can or at least the best games. We all know that games are priced at different pricing, but the most common is about 50-60 euros a game. This is quite expensive especially for the younger players amongst us. With the new consoles coming, the games will stay in this price range and a new wave of piracy will emerge that will play into the growing market of gaming. The key concern for the game console manufacturer was to make an unhackable system and invested a lot of money into the systems. But as everyone knows everything that man creates can be broken; this also applies for the security in gaming consoles. So, besides making the system more secure there was also an increase in government lobbying, to reinforce legislation towards cracking down on hackers and illegal markets where games are sold as bootlegs for a cheap price, as well as supporting the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

With the new upcoming economies, like China or India it has great potential to widening the revenues from those markets. Those markets will mature and cooperation between these markets and the western world will only increase. These governments will be eager to get more investments and will not want any embargos set on their countries. Political influence to take out illegal activities in these countries will be in the best interest of the governments. Increasing globalization will lead to international laws to tackle essential illegal activities that threaten the gaming industry. With maturity of the Chinese market we can see internal development for the local market. With the launch of their own next generation video standard the Enhanced Versatile Disc (EVD) it will encourage the Chinese government to promote more initiatives to go into more different markets. The gaming industry being bigger than the movie industry will be surely promoted. The launch of a low budget game console will start in the first case to target the local market, but eventually will become a big competitor on the international market, especially when the Chinese sign contracts to work together with the Koreans they will create a wider platform to produce technological high graded equipment. This will lead to more competitors on the market and will bring balance to the force. Game developers will diversify their games to target the different countries and game console manufacturers will be forced to build different game consoles for different regions to satisfy the needs and offer competitive products to the growing market, while trying to keep the quality at a stable level. The government has played a substantial role in helping the gaming industry to grow even more. But it also has contributed in a very different aspect in the gaming industry, namely the social aspects.

While 10 years ago, almost no censorship was applied to video games, these days, every game that has been released must undergo a strict verification procedure controlled by the ministry for promotion of righteousness (MPR). In order to regulate video games which contain objectionable content such as explicit violent or sexual content, a variety of labeling and censorship schemes are applied. The government has an active role in preventing objectionable content in video games being exposed to children. The most influential role the government plays is the role of restricting game developers from creating games which contain questionable and objectionable content. Every game developing firm must first get the approval of the MPR before starting to develop a game. After the game has been developed, the MPR once again has to approve if the game has been developed according to the agreements. Once a game has been approved, it will get an “approved by the MPR” logo which will be displayed on the box. The retailers are allowed to only buy and sell games that have an MPR logo. Games that have been developed without the approval of the MPR and are set for sale in unregistered stores or internet site are considered as illegal and are therefore prohibited. The alliance between the ESA and the government is responsible for locating these games. Besides approving games, the MPR has to research for which age category a game is suitable and rate the game accordingly. This has led to segmentation of game ratings. Games that are rated for 16 years and older can not be sold to people under the age of 16. Every video games store has a separate area for games rated above 16 years, and only upon mandatory identification it is possible to enter the area.

Compared to 10 years ago, the government does not only play an active role in protecting young citizens from exposure to objectionable games, but it also has an influential role in educating the gamers. Just about every game is flooded with messages throughout the game. Anti-smoking posters and commercials that will tell you to live healthier are just a few examples you will encounter when playing games today. Virtually every game starts with an infomercial that is based upon healthier living or other messages the government wants to tell you. This phenomenon shows us the tight cooperation of the government with the game developers. Incorporating governmental messages in games, results in additional funding for the game developers. This neo-propaganda approach is now a widespread technique used by many countries. China for example, uses military simulation games to recruit people for its army. In the game menus, you can find an option that will redirect you to the website of the People’s Republic army, where you can find information and application forms.