These days nobody is questioning the economic power and generational reach of video games as they have long surpassed theatrical movies in overall revenue. Amidst the worst recession since the stock market crash of 1929, total hours spent playing video games is significantly up from the same time last year and subscriptions to game rental services are at an all time high according to Nielsen. Game Stop locations are becoming as ubiquitous as Starbucks in many neighborhood. Video game software sales have consistently continued to increase since the advent of the Atari 2600, and now most game titles far outsell even the top selling older "classic" games such as Pacman. The most savvy AV dealers are starting to tap into this market starting with but in no way limited by Sony's strong push for Blu-ray on the Playstation3 console.
Kids today need more stimulation that past generations. They don't know a world without the Internet, caffeine and other environmental stimulants. Generation Y and the Millennial generation behind them struggle to have the attention span needed to watch a full two hour plus movie even when it's a big budget, shoot-em-up epic. Conversely sit a Generation Y gamer down for Halo 3: ODST on a proper 7.1 home theater system complete with a beamingly bright LED HDTV or a large format front video projection system and allow me to introduce you to the specialty home theater business' next generation of client. He (and many times she) knows an "E-ticket ride" when he sees one and that's just what specialty AV sells. The trick is that the best software isn't always a Michael Bay movie or a 5.1 remix of Dark Side of the Moon. The most exciting and demanding HD video paired with the most extreme HD surround effects are coming from today's video game titles.
Going past the draw of HD video on the newest, big-budget video games - the newest, high end titles really take advantage of the surround better than most movie 7.1 surround tracks. In the world of video games surround effects aren't just used - they are thoroughly exploited. In Call of Duty: World at War, the surround channels identify attackers coming from outside the field of vision of the gamer. These cues can help keep your character alive. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves uses the surrounds heavily for effects and enemy positioning as well, but goes one further using severe transitions from the fronts to the rears as you fall, giving the sensation of actually flipping forward.
276.8 million video game consoles sold to date show the commercial and mainstream appeal of today's Wii, Xbox360 and Playstation 3 (not to mention phone apps and other game platforms); however the vast majority of those systems are not connected to the latest HDMI 1.3b, DTS Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD powered receivers. Show a gamer how he or she can improve their game play with better surround while linking their iPhone via Bluetooth wireless connectivity via a $500 receiver and even in this recession - retailers might just make a sale. These kids, along older Generation Xers who also have a deep tradition with games that track back to the days of Atari, Intellivision, Colecovision, Super Nintendo and other classic systems have the interest and money to invest if the experience blows them out of their seats. Critics suggest that Generation Y kids are stereotypically low-income and or unwilling to spend money on luxury, yet somehow EA Sports sells $50 plus copies of Madden Football better than Jay-Z or Lady Gaga can sell CDs. I repeat (because I could barely believe it myself) - videogames outsell platinum records at more than triple the price per disc. Moreover, with the proliferation of movie download companies buying their way onto video game consoles - how long will it before all you need is a game machine to have your HD movies, music (in HD?), TV programs and video games all in one $200 magic entertainment box? Perhaps that day is already here.