Barriers to Entry: Games as High-art and the problems with Market Penetration for next generation experiences

    Last spring at the 2007 GDC in San Francisco, Warren Spectre in his talk Storytelling in the Next Generation pointed out that story was a way to lower barriers to entry for new audiences. This idea was brought to mind recently when I saw a direct mail piece that was sent to me from Best Buy. On the back of their mailer was the tag line “Upgrade your gaming to the next level”, the price tag… over 3k. No wonder Nintendo is doing wonders with the Wii, their model works, the key to their idea is that games are play things, toys, for a marginal price you can buy one and play right away, without auxiliary purchases, on even your parents old crappy TV. While as an artist I am very excitedly embracing the evolution of games to high-art, the businessman in me wonders how the hell anyone perhaps but a niche market will ever be able to play games when the barrier to entry is in excess of 1k let alone 2+.  Maybe it’s time to begin resurrecting the theater model for gaming, sort of like Arcades but with cutting edge 5.1 setups and a hybrid living room theater setting? At least if the games industry adopted the theater model for a couple of bucks any class of person, despite ludic interest or size of monetary commitment, could have a peak quality gaming experience.

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