More than a Game

Software engineer Marc Frega didn't expect to have a hit on his hands when he independently designed 4th Coming. However, his interactive role-playing game has spread quickly to game fans around the world.

The technology journal Red Herring this week discussed 4th Coming as an example of the brave new world of video gaming. 4th Coming, which has expanded to over 100,000 users, is just one of a variety of new games changing the face of online entertainment. This development – an independently-created product getting a large audience not through mass marketing but user-to-user –buzz would have been nearly inconceivable just a few years ago.

The interconnected world doesn’t stop at video games, however. Entertainment, politics, and product marketing are all undergoing similar changes as users are empowered to take initiative. As is the case with any new media, Internet technology doesn’t just add to the world, it changes it.

As Red Herring notes:

The major driver behind this shift is the growing popularity of high-speed Internet connections in North America, Europe, and Asia, where broadband penetration rates already range from about 50 percent to about 90 percent of households. The ubiquity of always-on, high-speed Internet is transforming cyberspace from a utility-driven model in which people connect, communicate, and transact, to a leisure-driven model in which permanently connected users hang out, socialize, and play. This shift is creating a need for new kinds of entertainment developed specifically for high-speed Internet consumption—and games are among the most popular forms of entertainment.

The impressive thing about the story of 4th Coming is that it happened from the ground up. The game emerged from Frega's initiative, and it has spread to a larger scale than its creator might have dreamed. This is about more than entertainment. It’s about the possibilities that emerge from the world of interconnectedness that comes with increased high-speed Internet access.

When more people can participate, the result is the emergence of communities and a vibrant economy driven by innovation. Universal high-speed access is the key to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to take part in these new possibilities.

Red Herring