There is no greater indicator of the massive change our society is undergoing than the startling fact that the World Interactive Entertainment (aka Video Game) Industry gross last year exceeded the Movie Box Office gross: a landmark in the history of civilization.
Once characterised as the past-time of adolescents, interactive entertainment has come a long way in the 25 years since Space Invaders first entered our way-of-life.
As computing power has become cheaper, game consoles such as the Playstation and Xbox have developed capabilities beyond the first supercomputers, and the games which they run have become more compelling with each year as the industry has matured.
And the rapid quest towards photo-realism and believable virtual reality will continue unabated for many years to come - each successive game release pushes the boundaries further and as each generation of computer consoles hits the market, capabilities take a quantum leap towards convincing synthetic reality.
When Sony releases the next generation console, it is expected to have 1000 times the graphics processing power. Sony's PS2 was released in late 2000 - since then it has sold more than 60 million units worldwide (one million in Australia) and gained the early mover advantage over its prime competitor, Microsoft.
The next generation of consoles will land in 2005 by which time Sony will be locked in combat with Microsoft for top spot in the netwroked world - where you can play with everyone's next door neighbour all at the same time. Microsoft has a massive advantage in this marketplace, already reaching the majority of the world's online population each month via its MSN network.
It would be easy to dismiss the game industry as a teenage phenomena, but in reality, teens of the nineties have grown up. The average game player gets older every year, and is currently 29.
And the next generation coming through is likely to be even more comfortable with computer games - interactive digital media has become an integral part of children's lives. A recent study of American children showed children under the age of six spend as much time playing video games as they do playing outside.
Two-thirds (68%) of children under two already use screen media, for an average of more than two hours A DAY!
More importantly than larger gross revenues, the game industry has a larger audience, commands a lot more of the audience's time and enjoys a very pro-active relationship with that audience - so proactive that many parents who have witnessed the phenomena would term it addictive.
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