GameTech: Facebook head says game player could become money maker

ARE you aged 12 or younger? Would you like to become a billionaire? The path to riches and fame is a simple one. Just play games all day. Well, sort of. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, one of the world’s youngest billionaires, attributes his self-taught success to gaming.

At Facebook’s sixth ‘town hall’ Q&A session in California, he had this to say about the influence of games on children. “I do think this dynamic around kids growing up, building games and playing games, is an important one because I think this is how a lot of kids get into programming,” he explained. “I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I had not played games as a kid.”

It’s an interesting testimonial and one that, anecdotally speaking, rings true in terms of a child’s development. A child is more likely to develop specialist skills if those skills are learned through having fun. Zuckerberg said he programmed a snowball-throwing game because his sisters wouldn’t have a real snowball fight with him. Clearly, the snowball effect didn’t end there — Zuckerberg went on to develop the world’s biggest social network. “Letting [children] play around with stuff is the best thing you can do,” he said. “Most of the engineers I know, who are some of the best engineers in the world, are self-taught.” Zuckerberg grew up in a different era, however, and it does make one wonder how the current crop of young gamers will attain their skills.

Will Candy Crush Saga lead to a future of sweetshop vendors on every corner, obsessively rearranging the colours of their goods? Will Call of Duty see our Defence Forces become the world’s most accurate (and whiny?) military organisation? Perhaps Minecraft will inspire a generation of landscape gardeners, architects and, erm, zombie hunters. After all, the Irish construction boom can clearly be traced back to Tetris in the late 1980s. Zuckerberg also touched upon gaming’s most exciting work-in-progress — virtual reality. Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset was last week announced for release in early 2016, and Zuckerberg predicted that it would shrink to ‘glasses size’ within 10 years, with people wearing them on the streets. Now that’s something that will inspire future billionaires.

DESERT DESTRUCTION

Speaking of the future, let’s hope it doesn’t turn out like the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. Released last Friday, the Tom Hardy flick is getting decent reviews for its stylish (but empty, in this writer’s opinion) take on a violent wasteland run by gangs. Thankfully, we might be getting an enjoyable Mad Max game too, but it won’t be released until September.

Judging by the gameplay trailer, Mad Max looks like a cross between Fallout, Arkham Asylum and Shadows of Mordor, which is a pretty fantastic mixture. Considering the game is under the Warner Bros label (as are Batman and Mordor) and appears to use a similar engine to those titles, we might be in for a treat. That’s not to say we haven’t seen a Mad Max game before, however. In 1990, players were battling for survival in a NES title, developed by Mindscape. But just like Mel Gibson, it’s looking pretty rough these days.

CROWDFUNDED VAMPIRE

Mad Max isn’t the only franchise returned from the dead. Koji Igarashi, creator of the all-time classic Castlevania, will return to his Dracula roots for a crowdfunded game next year. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, has more than quadrupled its initial target of $250,000 on Kickstarter, proving there is still a big market for side-scrolling exploration games. Igarashi made Symphony of the Night, a PlayStation masterpiece, so let’s hope he can reproduce that magic with Bloodstained.

The successful funding is an uplifting story, considering so many publishers rejected Igarashi’s pitch as unmarketable, but Kickstarter projects have a tendency to get delayed and changed. Let’s hope fans who placed a stake in Bloodstained will soon be doing the same to Dracula in the game.


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