Videogames: Less predictable, more fun

Ah, the growing challenge of being a videogamer. Not only are there more and more real people behind game characters (in multiplayer online games), but the game characters in console games are getting smarter. "Recent advancements in video game design – and new game consoles with dazzling computing power – have endowed computer-controlled characters with a sense of self-preservation and unpredictability not seen even a year ago," the Associated Press reports. The AP gives the example of the soon-to-be-released Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, in which stormtroopers don't just sit there when you throw something at them. "They may toss a grenade back. Or they might just put their hands up." Increasingly, reactions are not predictable. The latest Grand Theft Auto game was the first to use this technology that creates animation "on the fly," as the gamer plays – probably part of the explanation for GTA4's April sales having surpassed those of a blockbuster movie opening (and may have an impact on holiday wish lists, since only the latest consoles can support this new technology). The moment-by-moment decisions of other people are what create the unpredictability of multiplayer online games.

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