When Atari popularized the famous video game “Pong” in 1975 it changed the world forever. It brought notice to an industry that slowly grew into the worldwide phenomenon that it is today.Fast forward to Ellis Hall room 332 in 2010. The one-movement Pong knobs have been replaced by multi-button and multi-stick controllers that students hammer away at with their thumbs and forefingers several hundred times a minute trying to score a goal, a touchdown, or a kill.
All the while, the combatants playing the game yelling at the top of their lungs:
“WHAT?! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?”
“THIS IS RIDICULOUS!”
“HOW’D YOU KNOW I WAS THERE?!”
“NOOO! NOOO! YOU DID NOT KILL ME!”
It’s the era of Xbox and Playstation – and it’s only going to advance.
Currently, Sony and Microsoft are two main game console distributors worldwide. These are the companies that make the Playstation and Xbox, respectively.
At least one of these systems is present in almost every college dorm room. On Castleton State College’s campus, the Xbox is most popular.
In total since 2006, 334 Xboxes have been registered on campus with the Information Technology department.
“I’d say well over 100 of those registered Xboxes have a current lease,” said John Czar, network administrator at Castleton.
Only 87 Playstations have been registered since 2006.
“Xboxes are preferred. From what I’ve heard they seem to work better on high contention networks,” Czar said.
High contention networks are networks with high areas of traffic or a lot of users at one time – like a college campus.
Playstation owners aren’t that fortunate.
“I can’t seem to get my network to work at school. It works so well at home, and it confuses me,” said Dylan Plumley, a junior Playstation 3 owner.
So it’s clear that Xboxes are preferred, but the big question is, why?
“I had Sony for a long time. I switched to Xbox mostly because one of my friends showed me the original Halo. I saw a lot of the more fun games for that system,” said Tucker Krause, a junior Xbox owner at Castleton.
Marcus Hass has a different reason for preferring Xbox.
“I have huge hands, so Playstation controllers are uncomfortable. Xbox has a big chunky controller that fits with your hands,” he said.
Nick Minarik has another reason still why Playstations aren’t for him.
“A lot of the games I like to play are released years later on Playstation or not at all,” he said.
But in order to play Xbox Live with and against others, people must pay a monthly fee of $7.99, or a yearly fee of $50.
Playstation Network is free.
There is a version of Xbox Live that’s free, Xbox Silver, but you can’t play against other people.
“There are a lot of unforeseeable problems with online play. It really depends on how much money a company is willing to put into a network,” Plumley said.
Still to come
On Sept. 17, Sony released Playstation Move, a motion sensing game controller much like the Nintendo Wii.
“I didn’t even know it was released. Halo Reach overshadowed the launch of Move,” Plumley said.
It seems though that Playstation didn’t expect Move to do very well at first launch anyway.
According to 1up.com, Sony Computer Entertainment vice president Ray Maguire said that Sony expects initial sales for the controller to be “modest,” with the device catching on as word-of-mouth spread.
“Their friends bought it. They told their friends. Word of mouth grew the marketplace. That’s what I expect from Move as well,” Maguire said.
But will it catch on?
“I think they’re just trying to compete with the Wii. I probably won’t get it,” Plumley said.
On the complete other end of the spectrum, Microsoft is due to release Kinect on Nov. 4. Kinect, unlike Nintendo and Sony, is taking it one step further.
There won’t be a controller at all.
According to Kineticboom.com, Xbox product director Aaron Greenberg predicts that Kinect will “sell in excess of three million units this holiday.”
While Sony and Microsoft seem to have high expectations for success, whether eventual or immediate, it seems that the college students are a little more skeptical.
“I might get it in a year, after they fix whatever bugs it might have,” Krause said.