For a long time, many thought of gaming as something to hide, something to keep quiet, something better done in the confines of one's own home, especially if said gaming was done over a certain age. But the changing of generations shows that gaming is taking on a much more mainstream position in society, and what's reflecting this change is, oddly enough, Time Magazine and its annual Gadget of the Year list.
While the list held a few surprises—Apple losing out the top slot to Google for the Chromecast, for example—there were still plenty of gadgets whose appearances made perfect sense. The Kindle Fire HDX, the Pebble Smartwatch and so on were all perfectly rational choices. But making appearances this year were perhaps two somewhat unexpected devices: the Microsoft Xbox One and the Oculus Rift Development Kit.
This is actually something of a surprise for several reasons. While the Xbox One got a nod, coming in at number six on the list, but its competitor the PlayStation 4 didn't see a slot on the list at all. That by itself says something, but it's Time's words on why it made the list that make the most impact. Time points out the various functions of the Xbox One, like its Skype integration and cable and satellite box integration, as well as the newest features of the Kinect sensor like heart rate measurement, facial recognition, and even voice command recognition. Time further notes that “some aspects of the One are still rough around the edges, but it's going to be fascinating to see where it goes.”
The addition of the Oculus Rift Development Kit is also a surprise, however, as it's not yet available in a commercial release. That, at last report, was set for 2014, but it was the sheer potential that got Time interested in this one; of it, Time said “But once you strap on this virtual-reality headset onto your noggin and experience it in action, you'll get itchy for the consumer release...” and followed that up with “If the games live up to the hardware's potential, it could be an epoch-shifting landmark.”
It's worth noting that the Xbox One got its nod on the strength of all its new applications, as well as its potential future ramifications as well. The gaming was almost a sidebar, or so it seemed, to Time, which is possibly at least some of the reason that the PlayStation 4 didn't make it to the list. But the Oculus Rift was all gaming—at least, until one considers the possibility of same as a video viewer—but a gaming tool so advanced that it represented the realization of dreams some had held since the 1990s and the Dactyl Nightmare era.
But when Time Magazine starts talking about gaming, well, it's clear that something's up, and in a big way. Not that gaming wasn't already going mainstream, what with the rapidly growing phenomenon of e-sports and suchlike, but clearly, getting a nod in a magazine like Time is a whole new kind of step. It will be interesting to see if any gaming devices can make it into Time's top 10 this time next year, but for right now, the nod to the gamers is one that will likely prove welcome.