GAMING: The multi-billion dollar gaming industry

WE are currently experiencing an historical era as the gaming industry envelopes us. Doug Lowenstein – the President of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), put this perfectly in words by saying:

"Decades from now, cultural historians will look back at this time and say it is when the definition of entertainment changed forever" - Doug Lowenstein, ESA President

The gaming industry has become one of the largest contributing forces behind the growth and stability of the North American economy. Reaping in $9.5 billion (roughly R76 billion) in 2007 – according to the ESA – the gaming industry is just short of making as much money as the film industry (which made roughly $10.2 billion last year). However, computer and video game software sales have tripled since 1996, and with the rate that new games and technologies are being developed, I'm certain that the gaming industry will far exceed Box Office sales in the very near future.

Future Archaeologyfuture archaeology

Some other interesting figures produced by the ESA are that 67% of American households play video and computer games – the bulk of which believe that it has brought their families closer together. Furthermore, the majority of the statistical results show that teenagers under the age of 18 get permission from their parents before buying any of the gruesome R18 games. If such innocence is indeed truthful, then is the gaming industry all that bad?

I just wish that South Africa would develop a best-selling game that would 'wow the world'. Surely we have the capability to do so? Yet I suppose our society, which is so charged with being politically correct, would prevent us from developing say a first-person shooter game based on the Anglo-Boer War.

If only that were easier, and our software developers would cease emigrating overseas where they are more appreciated, we could overcome some of our other financial difficulties...

Related post: Too hot to handle: Future gaming & PCs

Links:
Plunkett Research Ltd.
The Entertainment Software Association
Video games don't hurt movie sales if you make good movies

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WEB STATISTICS: The difference between hits, page impressions, user sessions and unique visitors

EVERYONE with a website or blog should be interested to know just how well they are doing in terms of generating online traffic. However, the value of website statistics lies in the interpretation of trends rather than concentration on precise figures.

While some site aggregators focus on 'hits' and 'user sessions', others offer insight into 'unique visits' and 'page impressions'. Below is an attempt at distinguishing between these terms in order to better understand what the dots and lines on web statistics mean.

WEBSITE HITS:

The idea of measuring website traffic using hits is becoming rather old school due to its inaccuracy. Technically speaking a page hit is the term for any requested file, including each of a page's images or graphics. It is the retrieval of any item, like a page or a graphic, from a web server. Any time a piece of data matches criteria you set, in a Google search for example, it's recorded as a hit.

The problem with hits however is that when a visitor calls up a web page consisting of several graphics, each one is recorded as a hit plus one for the html page. For this reason, hits often aren't a good indication of web traffic.

PAGE IMPRESSIONS/VIEWS:

While a hit is a single file request from a web-server, a page impression is a combination of one of more files sent to a user via that user's request (such as a search). In other words, it is the viewing or downloading of a website in its entirety by one user.

In web advertising, the term 'impression' is often synonymous for 'view', and is usually what advertisers use to determine how and where to advertise online.

However, the accuracy of this data will depend upon whether or not the user's PC is 'caching' the files integral to that page, or whether the user clears the cache after each session. In other words, whether or not the page has to reload each time.

Page impressions therefore become meaningless on framed sites. If a framed page has a separate frame for the header, the top border and the main text area, for example, a visitor will create a total of four different page impressions rather than one.

page impressions

USER SESSIONS:

In tabulating more accurate statistics for website usage, user sessions are often used for counting the number of times a particular user visits the site. This is determined by the visitor's IP address and thereby solves the problems of repeat visits to pages.

These are calculated by the presence of a user with a specific IP address who has not visited the site recently (typically, anytime within the past 30 minutes). For example, a user who visits a site at noon and then again at 3pm would be counted as two user sessions or visits.

UNIQUE VISITORS:

A related term for user sessions, a unique visitor refers to a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time.

Different from a hits or page views (measured by the number of files that are requested from a site) unique visitors are measured according to their unique IP addresses. These act like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site.

One could think of unique visitors as your loyal readership or website users. Treat them well!

Hope this was helpful. Please add any additional insight or unique info you may have below.

LinksHits and impressions Site measurement FAQs

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WEB ADDICTION: Synopsis, symptoms, statistics, research and treatment

Hi, my name is Jeff and I’m an addict. A web addict.

Several surveys and related research is leading to more and more psychologists being trained to identify and treat what has become known as Internet addiction or web abuse. It has even been suggested that web abuse be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders within the American Journal of psychiatry.

SYNOPSIS:
Internet addiction has been labeled as a compulsive disorder with cyber sex and cyber porn addiction being the most common forms. Like most addictions these have an impact on an individual’s social and personal life.

The disorder has been further sub-catergorised into addiction to online gaming, compulsive surfing and eBay addiction. However, it has been noted that these only become a problem when they interfere with normal living and cause severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and work performance.

Internet addiction appears to be having real effects on people. One blogger has pointed out how websites have been ironically set up to provide information for sufferers, as well as info for attorneys and psychologists.

SYMPTOMS:
According to netaddiction.com:

"Internet addicts struggle to control their behaviors, and experience despair over their constant failure to do so. Their loss of self-esteem grows, fueling the need to escape even further into their addictive behaviors. A sense of powerlessness pervades the lives of addicts"

According to the Daily Telegraph web-addicts suffer from 4 symptoms:

  1. Forgetting to eat and sleep
  2. Needing more advanced technology or more hours online as ‘resistance’ to the pleasure given by their current system develops
  3. When deprived of their computer, genuine withdrawal symptoms are experienced; and,
  4. In common with other addictions, victims begin to have more arguments, suffer from fatigue, experience a decline in work performance, and begin to feel isolated from society - Andy Bloxham, Daily Telegraph, June 20, 2008

Related symptoms may be cravings (for better software, faster machines etc.), withdrawal (which may cause irritability, tremors and anxiety), a loss of sense of time, and negative social repercussions (such as neglecting real-life relationships). Some patients even report suffering nervous breakdowns when they can’t go online.

STATISTICS:
Although research into Internet addiction is sketchy (and usually concerns a group of white Americans) a few countries have conducted in-depth surveys. Below is a summary of the more recent findings.

  • British psychiatrists have reported that between 5% and 10% of online users are internet addicts.
  • In China the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital puts the number of teenage pathological computer users at 10 million.
  • Research from South Korea suggests the affliction is a serious public health problem, and estimates that 168,000 children may require psychotropic medications.
  • National (North American) surveys revealed that over 50% of Internet addicts also suffered from other addictions (mainly to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex).
  • Internet addicts also suffer from relationship problems in almost 75% of the cases.
  • Trends also showed that Internet addicts suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety-related disorders (it has been suggested that web addicts often use the fantasy world of the Internet to psychologically escape unpleasant feelings or stressful situations in reality).
  • Gender stereotypes also seem to translate online: men are more likely to become addicted to online games, cyberporn, and online gambling, for example, while women are more likely to become addicted to chatting, instant messaging, eBay, and online shopping.

RESEARCH PROBLEMS:
It has been noted that around 70-80% of the subjects referred to in such research is comprised mostly of white Americans. However, the idea of Internet addiction does seem to be spreading around the globe like a 21st century plague.

Yet there is much dispute over whether or not such a condition is in fact unique. One psychiatrist has suggested that the Internet is merely another form of escapism for those with other problems:

"What most people online who think they are addicted are probably suffering from is the desire to not want to deal with other problems in their lives. Those problems may be a mental disorder (depression, anxiety, etc.), a serious health problem or disability, or a relationship problem. It is no different than turning on the TV so you won't have to talk to your spouse, or going "out with the boys" for a few drinks so you don't have to spend time at home. Nothing is different except the modality" - John M. Grohol

TREATMENT:
Despite this, several doctors around the world are recommending various treatment options for those who believe they are web addicts. Dr Kimberley Young, who maintains www.netaddiction.com suggests that like an eating disorder, the key to beating Internet addiction is to develop a healthy pattern of consumption.

"Treatment for Internet addiction focuses on moderation and controlled use of the Internet, much in the way those suffering from eating disorders must relearn healthy eating patterns" – Dr Kimberley Young

Dr Grohol, on the other hand, believes that Internet addition is simply a behavioral problem. He suggests that "it's the behavior, and behaviors are easily treatable by traditional cognitive-behavior techniques in psychotherapy".

I leave you with a snippet from Wired Magazine, which took a similar skeptical stance towards the idea that the Internet is dangerously addictive:

…it's so much easier to date an avatar. Sound familiar? Your friend the World Wide Web may be a monkey on your back. Or not. Just ask yourself this: If Google were a drug, would I smoke it?

Links:
Wired Magazine: Internet Addiction articles
News article: Internet addiction is a ‘clinical disorder’

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