The Home Invasion

The Home Invasion
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Xbox

Joe Blancato | 29 Nov 2005 07:04
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Ms. Dark, I Presume
The Xbox 360 is the first bona fide product of the New Gaming Age. It's the first gaming device created since the world awoke to the realization that gaming would usurp all other forms of entertainment as a cultural barometer. Beautiful People helped sell the 360 on MTV. Spielberg is designing games now. Peter Jackson actually had a hand in King Kong's design, and he's kicking around the idea of abandoning movies forever, just to make games. This is the Great Media War's Lexington and Concord. And by God, the industry is damn proud of it.

It's really not hard to see. An untrained eye can take a look at King Kong and see where we're headed. But King Kong isn't what's going to really cement gaming's toehold on the hearts and minds of Western culture. If we want to get into Microsoft's head, see where they're going, we need not look at the 50-foot ape, but at the 5'9" redhead packing heat.

Joanna Dark is nothing less than a star from the future.

We've been given a heroine, the first icon of this new age, as suave as Sean Connery and as revolutionary as Thomas Paine. Joanna, when she's optioned into a Star Wars-sized franchise, will be the industry's first true leap into the newest American generation's pop culture. Movie stars will clamor to play her, and people other than Uwe Boll will vie for the rights to direct the film series. When your daughter dresses up as her on Halloween and your son wants her face on his lunchbox, you'll be able to tell them about the time it wasn't socially acceptable to talk to non-gamers about your marathon Perfect Dark parties.

And they'll ask, "Daddy, what's a gamer?" Because our culture will no longer be classified, because it's the only culture your children will ever know.

Try that on for a second - a world without gamers, because everyone is a gamer. No longer relegated to a socially awkward niche, gaming will rise to prominence over other entertainment media, overtaking its boring, non-interactive predecessors in market and mind share.

It's why the next generation consoles are being touted as home media devices. It's the easiest way to slip games into the other things Americans do for fun. Oh, you're going to watch Taxi Driver on DVD? Cool, the 360 can do that. Did you know there's another DeNiro flick on TCM? Why don't you TiVo it on your PS3's hard drive? Oh yeah, there's a game coming out, too. Guess what can play that.

They tried this approach with the home theater PC, but it didn't work, chiefly because people used to remotes and dropping DVDs into trays aren't going to put up with having to install multiple programs, just to be able to watch movies and record TV shows. While "computer people" - just like "car people" - take extreme pride in doing the impossible, be it rebuilding an engine from scratch or setting up a 15-hard-drive RAID, most people prefer it when things just work.

Enter the Xbox 360, the kinder, gentler version of the home theater PC. Now, your mom can enjoy the Taxi Driver/Robert DeNiro smorgasbord of digestible entertainment, just by using her old friend the remote control, and maybe by picking up a controller. And if you happen to own a Nintendo Revolution, she won't even have to adapt to a Wavebird.

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