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Reviewing X-box and PS3 Games

To a much larger extent than most people understand, the fact that all three major games consoles are now on PPC presages change in general business computing.

I'm not talking about the hardware or Wii's obvious potential for slideware - I'm thinking about the implications for software and what we think we need relates to what we try to do. It bothers me, for example, quite a lot that Nintendo's games running on a dinky 729Mhz G3 class PPC are at least as much fun as games running on Cell and Xenon -because what that says is that nobody's using the power of Cell and Xenon properly.

Do what I did, check out some games on both power platforms and I think you'll be struck first by the glorious graphics and secondly by the nature of the games - something any half way literate reviewer not being paid by the games industry should describe as anti-intellectual, boring, dull, repetitive, simple-minded, soul deadening, sterile, tedious, tiresome, unimaginative, uninspired, uninventive, and utterly repetitive.

In short, these things illustrate that violence can be combined with great graphics to hide twenty plus years of non progress in gaming design or overall game models.

Why is this so?

In part, I think, because the core financial model for the console makers, in which losses on hardware sales are made up from software licensing, mitigates against open source games for these things - and the absence of open source competition means that the studios can get away with perennially releasing variants on the same half dozen or so basic games.

Meanwhile one of the most obvious things about the games themselves is that the industry has yet to figure out how to take advantage of the available network and computational power.

That's sad - but are we going to do any better when these same technologies enter the data center? On the evidence to date, I'd doubt it - and that's even sadder because it means we're going to have teraflop capable machines crashing on Word files and the trivial data management stuff most data centers live by.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.