Thumb’s the word

As the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival returns, Henry Northmore talks to games guru Ian Livingston about the changing face of gaming and modern media.

Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival

When Wed 10—Sun 14 Aug

Where Edinburgh International Conference Centre

How much? 93 for the Go Play Games! and Games Screening section

Need more? For full details of all the screenings. guests, talks. conference booking

information and for advance tickets. go to

Lifis 9

he world of gaming has grown exponentially in the last few years. and it seems our addiction has increased at just the same pace.

This summer there is a place to feed that addiction. The Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival offers information and entertainment for consumers and industry bods. It is split into three strands for different types of addict. (io Play Games! is a gamers‘ paradise of sneak peaks and hands-on action. In a second strand. industry creators and programmers will be on hand to discuss their complex creations overlapping with a side of the show in which new games will be screened.

There‘s also a conference for networking and learning for those wishing to break into the industry. It brings up some of the most interesting questions in gaming through its panel discussions. charting gaming‘s cultural move into mainstream global entertainment medium. lan Livingston has been there from the beginning. One of the founders of Games Workshop. he wrote the first Fighting l'ktnrasv interactive game book. Now he‘s at liidos. a company that brought us Lara Croft: 7m}; Raider: (‘lmnipionslzip Manager and. more recently. Hinnun. He‘s been invited to present the opening lilEF event. ‘Game Culture: From Geek to (‘hicK

‘For me I think the big breakthrough was in the mid-90s when Sony entered the arena with the Playstation.‘ explains the affable Livingston. ‘Suddenly you moved to a 3D gaming experience. Before then videogames were mainly aimed at children with those cutsie characters. and suddenly Sony went into the mainstream with teenagers

and young adults. (‘hildren ‘WOULD YOU

hadn’t stopped playing games they’d just got older and wanted more mature content.

Sony understood that and we A certainly understood it. so

offered the world Lara Croft in full 3D. What would you rather A look at'.’ A hedgehog. a

plumber or Lara Croft‘s nice

pert bottom'."

The advent of the purpose " built gaming machine was a pivotal moment: it was sleek. sexy and built for power. Games like Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto. aimed directly at mature gamers. led to all the Daily Mail-baiting games such as Mun/non. God of War and The Suffering. ‘lt's fear of the unknown.‘ says Livingston. ‘My parents used to hate my Superman comics and Rolling Stone records. But if you‘ve grown tip with something you have no fear. because you do understand it.‘

Beyond advances in technology. gaming‘s position in modern multimedia culture has shifted dramatically. The UK is at the forefront of this expanding marketplace. It is unique in its creative talent. You add together large levels of creativity and home computing and. hey presto. you get computer games so we were off to a flying start.‘

With the next generation - the Xbox360. PS Three and Nintendo Revolution -- on their way at the end of this year/early 2006. it‘s an ever expanding world. ‘It‘s exciting and daunting at the same time. when you massively increase the horse power for the new consoles you have to fill all this space with graphics and animations and ever more realistic environments and physics.~ says Livingston. ‘But there are lots of other areas where you can enter the games arena. it‘s not just the hiin end consoles. I think everyone will be playing games: online poker is effectively a game of sorts. It’s just finding the right medium and concept for them.‘

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