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The Impact Of Computer Games
An area of computing that has grown at an escalating speed and made a significant impact on society in recent years is interactive multimedia. As stated by David Cole, president of DFC Intelligence, ‘‘The game industry is forecast to become a $20 billion worldwide business in the next two years, . . . for many forms of digital entertainment including music, movies, Web access and interactive television.’’ The computer game industry is now generating more revenue than the Hollywood film industry. As a result of using the latest technologies, and the involvement of many large corporations (including Microsoft), computer game developers facilitate advances in computer graphics, artificial intelligence, human computer interaction, virtual reality, and other areas. Such technologies can be adapted for use in many fields such as training, education, medical image research, and so on. Thus, there are compelling reasons to examine the impact of computer games on our society.
The emergence of new technology in recent years has changed the way games are played, and made it possible for many players to participate via the Internet. The development of multimedia, such as 3D animation, computer music and sound effects, has enhanced the sophistication of computer games, and improved virtual reality to the point that it now seems real. A successful computer game relies on a number of steps, including game design, development, marketing, packaging and production. The game development market is growing, particularly as a result of the popularity of the Internet and broadband penetration. All papers in this special issue were selected from the International Conference on Application and Development of Computer Games in the 21st Century (ADCOG21), which was held in Hong Kong in November 2001. The Innovation and Technology Commission of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region sponsored the conference. Its objective was to promote related technologies and examine the impact of computer games on our society. Participants from ten countries contributed high quality papers, all of which have been reviewed through a rigorous process. This issue consists of seven papers that examine the wider impact of computer games, not just in the games industry but also in other areas such as security, network resources, and learning. In each case the author has revised, modified and expanded the presentation given at the conference. The paper by Khan, ‘‘Implementing an intelligent tutoring system for adventure learning’’, details the effective application of computer game technology to inspire college students. Charles, Mead, and Cavazza build on this in their paper ‘‘Interactive storytelling’’, which emphasises the interactivity between students and software. The paper by Jayakanthan, ‘‘Application of computer games in the field of education’’, further highlights the effectiveness of applying game technologies in the educational field. Other than the application of games in education, papers also focused on the trend towards increasing numbers of on-line computer games due to the widespread use of mobile phones. One aspect of this tendency, however, is reduced concern over security issues related to downloading or playing games on-line. Two papers – ‘‘Security issues in online games’’, and ‘‘Wireless online games’’ – by Yan and Choi and Sum, respectively, addressed this issue and proposed secure methods for playing such games.
An additional area receiving attention in the industry is the multiplayer game, which involves sophisticated networking resources and methods. Smed, Kaukoranta and Hakonen addressed these issues in their paper, ‘‘Aspects of networking in multiplayer computer games’’. Another paper addressed the issue that effective game development not only relies on technology, but also on management. In their paper ‘‘Some management issues in computer game development’’, Cheung and Siu highlight their personal experience in producing a successful game.
These papers showcase the most innovative research in the field and demonstrate the impact of current technology beyond the world of computer games. As the industry expands we can expect to see even more computer game applications adapted for diverse and important uses. Alfred Loo and Charlie Choi Dr Alfred Loo works in the Department of Information Systems, Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 2616 8091 Fax: 2892
When Dr Loo asked whether TEL might like to publish some of the papers from the conference on computer games, I thought this would be rather a good idea to show a different dimension to IT and multimedia – technologies which are heavily used within the library and information community. Accordingly, I selected papers which I felt covered some of the issues that libraries might face also when providing facilities to access the Internet – for playing games or for any other purpose. So papers covering topics dealing with management, security and network issues seemed to me of some potential interest to readers, even though they did not deal with immediate library aspects. Also since a couple of the papers discuss also aspects like animation and interfaces, then I thought that there might be some additional pointers from a different perspective for libraries who are designing Web sites and automation interfaces or providing interactive stories (libraries also often provide story hours), training and tutoring or similar. I know these topics are somewhat outside the normal scope of TEL, but there is no reason why we cannot learn something from other (sort of) related industries. I have included one additional paper – that by Ying Dong et al. on intellectual property right problems of peer-to-peer networks such as is provided by services like Napster. I felt that this paper fitted in with the others and, again, might give librarians some food for thought when their computers and Internet connections are used for such things.
Previously published in: The Electronic Library, Volume 20, Number 2, 2002
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