The computer gaming industry is huge. A new game has the same impact as a Hollywood blockbuster in terms of media interest and sales generated. Today we welcome the latest version of Grand Theft Auto (GTA IV) to the market. Expected to generate over $400 million in its first week, it has already generated 65 million unit sales over its life span so far .
If you're not familiar with the game, or don't have teenage (mainly male) or ‘man child’ members in your household, then the hype surrounding the launch may well pass you by. However, when you understand that the premise of the game involves stealing cars, ignoring all traffic regulations, running over pedestrians and killing innocent bystanders, you may be mildly shocked.
Don’t be. GTA was created in Scotland in the hub of the UK’s computer gaming industry (Dundee) and computer gaming has generated the need for creative IT skills and expertise in this country. The excitement generated by the launch of GTA IV reminds me of a thought-provoking presentation prepared by my colleague Ray Fleming – Shift Happens, which includes a fact stating that 84% of young people play computer games at least once a fortnight, whereas 72% of teachers never play computer games.
It may be glib to say that technology moves at a pace few of us can comprehend but it is true. If you have not already done so, watch Shift Happens. It’ll help you to understand better why GTA IV is both a commercial success and why playing it is not only a valuable educational experience but also great fun!