CES 2014: Gaming Takes A Big Slice of the Show

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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CES 2014: Gaming Takes A Big Slice of the Show

One exciting theme about this year's Consumer Electronics Show is one that we've been picking up bits and pieces of throughout the week, but also came in the form of things that we didn't discuss. Now that the show's coming to an end, it's a good time to start taking a look back at the biggest events of the show and discover, to probably the surprise of many, that gaming took a lot of the show's time. Particularly PC gaming, as several new advancements in the field made it to the show floor.

We talked about Razer's Project Christine, and we talked about the new changes made in the Oculus Rift with its Crystal Cove version. Earlier in the week we got a look at Sony and its PlayStation Now service, and had a lot of discussion on these points and how they were set to change the world of gaming as we knew it. But here's the critical distinction, the one that's downright unusual in its own right: the fact that these points were even there in the first place.

I've seen a few CES events come and go; been writing about technology in general for some time now and was interested in it beforehand. One thing I do know is that there's not often much in the way of gaming at the Consumer Electronics Show, some years more so than others. Normally gaming announcements are saved for things like the Game Developer's Conference, Gamescom, or particularly the grand gaming bacchanal known as E3, or even its upstart potential replacement the Penny Arcade Expo. This year, however, no one seemed inclined to wait and a whole lot of news came out.

Granted, computers are a huge part of the CES event and have been for some time. But the gaming side of things wasn't so often pointed out, until this year showed off a whole lot of possibilities. Moreover, we only just had a big console gaming release emerge, essentially kicking off the next generation of games with the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Thus the idea of putting PC games on the back-burner for a while, letting the initial furor around the new console generation die out, could have been at least understood if not necessarily condoned. But the PC gaming market clearly wasn't having it, and brought out a slew of new computers, new peripherals, and exciting new technologies to the gaming community as a whole.

Granted, there's something of a dual-natured element when it comes to PC gaming. Showing off computers and computer components is basically the same thing as showing off PC gaming tools, so it makes some sense that the Consumer Electronics Show would be heavy on PC gaming material. It intersects normal PC material with near-perfect clarity. Even many of the gaming advances we saw—the Oculus Rift and Project Christine in particular—could be said to have additional uses. The Oculus Rift, for example, could make a fine home theater component particularly in small places, potentially with a bit of re-engineering, and Project Christine may well revamp how computers are made, offering its modular prowess to allow easy rebuilding of computers for most anyone, not merely the techno-savvy.

But PlayStation Now and similar items have no real focus but gaming, and the appearance of these developments at CES was a real eye-opener. Perhaps gaming is becoming so mainstream that it's being considered a consumer electronics system of its own. Perhaps companies like Sony are simply eager to show off new advances and get a leg up on a growing number of competitors. Perhaps PC gaming companies are just looking to take advantage of a big news cycle involving gaming. There are certain plenty of possibilities afoot here, and plenty of room to explain what's going on.

I like to believe that we're on the cusp of a new era, an era in which gaming is both widespread and readily accepted. An era where gamers aren't just those guys who live in their mothers' basements, but rather ordinary everyday people, people you might wave to on your way to work or share a quiet conversation with across the back fence. It certainly would be nice not to be looked at like a school shooter in the making any more, and more perspectives may well generate new games that beat anything that's currently out there. Only time will tell what the ultimate impact of such a change in attitudes—if it's even really there at all—might be, but one thing's for sure: something big may well be in the works, and even bigger than any one announcement at CES could have generated.
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