Eadon: Console Wars, Chess Wars

Rolling back the mists of Old Father Time Megahertz, we peer back into the digital medieval times (the 1980’s and 1990’s). Games Consoles were fantastic in the truest fantasy meaning of the word back then. The beginning of the end of the magic was the coming first Sony Playstation, when games consoles, whilst still immense fun, relinquished their magic and soul to big corporate business.

Twin curses afflicted the games consoles market. Firstly R&D costs to produce consoles put the console business out of reach of medium sized, enterpreneural organisations, now only corporate blue chips could afford to play the consoles game. The second blow was that games production for consoles became extortionately expensive.

Corporates’ games consoles publishing fees locked out the casual, low budget “bedroom programmers”. The general public’s demand for 3D eye candy made matters even worse. Suddenly coding computer games was pricey and marketing overhead even more so. These days it costs as much to make a big budget game as it costs to make a tent pole Hollywood movie. And just as the plots of Hollywood blockbusters are tediously formulaic, likewise big budget games are reduced to derivative game play. Innovation and risk taking went out of the window as corporate bean counters and other MBA’s have suffocated the creative process.

Returning to the 1980’s and 90’s, new generations of thrilling hardware were released every three years. Each generation blew the mind. No longer. It has taken seven long years for the new generation of games consoles to appear, a veritable aeon in the digital age.

The first of these new consoles is the Nintendo Wii U. Nintendo cater for the relatively low budget, family market and, despite having consoles that lack the graphical realism of their rivals models, Nintendo survives as the last company dedicated to making games consoles. This is remarkable as Nintendo lacks the financial resources of its giant corporate competitors. Nintendo have always produced iconic games too. They focus on game play over graphical resolution and appeal to the casual gamer.

The bad boys of the games consoles are Sony and Microsoft and this week they released their latest games consoles, the Playstation 4 and the XBox One.
I will mention a couple of warnings. Microsoft are notorious for launching products that have flaws, and the XBox One is no exception, some early reports have indicated machines that have been “bricked”.


Most importantly – US companies are compelled by US law to give the US government your data and they are legally not be allowed to talk about it. So is it wise to place an XBox One with its microphone, sensors and cameras in your house, a console that requires an Internet connection to get the best features? The XBox One is a veritable NSA spying wet dream.

For the curious, here is a detailed comparison of PS4 vs XBox One.

Other geek news:
In last weeks column I described how Norwegian Magnus Carlsen was challenging Indian Viswanathan Anand to be the Chess World Champion. Carlsen, who, three years ago, was the youngest world number one in history was able to win the World Champion title with ease. Sadly Anand showed no desire to compete. Anand’s strategy was to draw as many games as he could, presumably because he knew Carlsen was by far the greater player. Anand’s approach meant that the games were generally dull, with some extremely exciting moments amidst the drudgery.

Carlsen won three games and drew seven to become the second youngest Chess World Champ in history (Garry Kasparov was a touch younger in his day). This was only the third World Championship match where the defending World Champion was unable to win a single game against his challenger. Carlsen follows in the footsteps of the modern World Champs Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov in that he dominates his peers, no one in the world comes close to matching his chess genius.

Where would we be without some geek paranoia come true? The American government can track your phone even with the battery removed: http://www.fastcompany.com/3014675/fast-feed/how-the-cia-can-send-a-drone-after-any-mobile-phone

For those of you who, like me, think that prime numbers are cool, recent developments on the Twin Primes conjecture have been extraordinary. This article is fairly accessible, given the topic.

More bricked spying machines consoles and other insanity next week!

P.S. I am a game inventor as well as an IT geek, Culica Cube, my invention, is available on Amazon (UK) Culica Cube. It is fab and also ideal as stocking filler.

One comment on “Eadon: Console Wars, Chess Wars

  1. Simon Roberts
    November 25, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    I don’t use game consoles myself, but I was horrified to learn about the spying capabilities of the Xbox.

    What horrified me even more was the reaction of most people I know – they just didn’t care.

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