This is not your grandfather’s Monopoly game

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the general aesthetic strategy behind the multiplayer system in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which feels essentially identical to the multiplayer system in Modern Warfare 2. Yes, there’s a new coat of paint, and I’m sure that a hardcore CoD nut could point to a million granular improvements. Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly, 11-11-11

Getting old is not easy, not because of the things that go wrong physically (that does happen) so much as the things that change in the world around one that are confusing and incomprehensible.   The last twenty years have been a blur of technological changes that is stupefying.  The speed of the change in telephones for example – the first telephones I remember had four-digit numbers and one picked up the telephone and asked the operator for a number – or in small towns a person, by name; and some times you shared a line with others and had to wait until your neighbor finished talking before making a call.  Of course, many people passed a pleasant evening listening to their neighbors talk.

The radio programs that dominated the routine of my family life until I was nearly 12 years old, was very pleasant,  slow paced and a family activity.  There were never more than one or two “favorite” programs to listen to any day, and many days the only time radio was on was for the news.  Television increased the number of available programs and certainly had a more dramatic effect on the routine of family living than radio, but it was all just a matter of degree.  The internet is not just a matter of more stuff available or faster access to information and entertainment – it does more than dictate the rhythm of a family’s evenings – it dictates, especially when accessed via a cell phone, the very rhythm of a person’s waking hours, everyday and all day.

None of that is news to anyone and the only people who find it a bit overwhelming are old people, who like me, have been unable or unwilling to fully embrace the technology.  But today, I got a shock from another direction, a whole world of things about which I know almost nothing, video games; of course, I know they exist, I have watch lots of people play them and have even bought a few as presents for “gamers” in my family.   Still, my concepts of games are as out-of-date as my concepts of any form of evening entertain.  Games were to me and my family the compliments of radio – of an evening we sat together after dinner and played games – card games and board games.  It was great family fun, we spent many, many hours together playing games, laughing, teasing, sometimes cheating, but always together.  Well, any fool knows that video games have replaced all of that and much of the time spent playing is spent alone or with strangers online.  However, whatever I think of video games they are immensely popular and for the game makers very, very profitable.

Friday, a new game was released, Call of Duty – it sold 65 million copies the first day, generating $400 million dollars.  That trumps Monopoly and Old Maid doesn’t it? Just for a little comparison, Immortals was the highest grossing movie of the week – it took in $32 million; Call of Duty sold twice many units in one day – units not dollars.  Imagine a movie that sold 65 million tickets in one day.

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November 2011
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