We’ve come a long way since Pong
78 takes a quick look at the video game industry

These days gamers come from all walks of life, and many games have an amazing degree of depth. Games such as World of Warcraft, have combined aspects of daily life with fantasy adventure, allowing millions of online-players to interact and live out virtual lives in real time –Even the game developers are surprised at how their creations are continually evolving.

By Jason Padilla | Feb - March 2006

Video games aren’t just for kids anymore. Adults all over the world play games and enjoy them just as much, if not more than younger players. Today, many games have complex story lines, graphics, and artificial intelligence that can only be appreciated by mature audiences.

Many probably wonder what type of games people play and who the heck is playing them. The answer is games of every genre, and people of all ages.

Games have become so popular they can often turn into a profession for those with exceptional talent. Organizations such as “The Cyberathlete Professional League” (CPL, www.thecpl.com) have been blazing the trail for nearly 10 years in the professional gaming movement. Founder and gaming icon, Angel Munoz, is responsible for its creation; other organizations have developed as a result of CPL’s success.

Hosting over 45 national events with competitors playing head to head, and team battles with over $3 million in prize money, the CPL has made it possible for anyone with skills to make a living playing games.

Top players at their respective games can earn anywhere up to and over $60,000 a year. While there is only a minute fraction of gamers who make a living by gaming, it doesn’t mean the casual enthusiast cannot enjoy gaming just as much.

Although the turn out wasn’t huge, the few who showed up at the Encinitas Barnes and Noble for the debut of “Smartbomb” were in for something special.

Co-written by husband and wife duo Aaron Ruby and Heather Chaplin, “Smartbomb” is a one of a kind book about the video game world. The couple paid a visit to Encinitas in early November as part of their busy promotion tour to help spread the word about their text, which took nearly five years to complete.

“Smartbomb” is a book about video games, and not just the stuff a gamer may already know. The book literally covers everything video game related. From the historic breakthrough of “Pong” to the super game systems of today; the book includes everyone who made it all possible.

The book takes readers through the headaches of developement; detailing the 24 hour shifts, art production, testing, and programing games are put through before their release. It covers every major player and event in the video game world. In short, it is a couple hundred pages of video game history that has gone largely unnoticed until now.

As some of us already know, and “Smartbomb” explains, video games are big bucks with sales nearing $10 billion in the United States alone. Globally, sales figures are beyond enormous.

To avid gamers and fans alike, the figures aren’t as alarming as they may seem to newbies outside the gaming loop.

San Diego resident and quality assurance supervisor, Ed Farst, has been playing games since he was eight-years-old; today he is 27. For the newbies, quality assurance is the term given to those who test video games, which is an endless search for every possible flaw or bug that can be fixed in a game before it hits the shelves.

“I remember playing my Nintendo system for hours when I was eight-years-old. Today I still play for hours, only I’m an adult and I often get paid for it,” said Farst.

Farst owns four gaming consoles and he is waiting for the arrival of the latest consoles yet to hit the market.

Farst is not the only person awaiting new systems. In Nov. 2005, Microsoft released the “XBOX 360,” a state of the art gaming system that spun many gaming enthusiasts into a frenzy. With crisp graphics and popular titles, buyers went to extreme measures to get their mitts on the pre-holiday release of the XBOX 360.

Many new consoles are already slated for release, and the gaming boom is sure to keep growing, making today’s systems just the tip of the iceberg. Console games make up only a portion of gaming systems, and computer-based gaming makes up the rest.

In short, the gaming world is huge, and it’s only getting bigger and better. It is a good time to be a gamer, and it’s an even a better time to start.

For more information about the gaming world and the authors of “Smartbomb,” Aaron Ruby and Heather Chaplin, visit www.smartbomb.us.

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