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Internet - The Downfall Days

A mere ten years ago in 1998, when I started to delve into gaming and the internet, barely anyone really knew what computer games had to offer; or why people bothered to bury their noses in them for hours and hours a night. I started to game during a time when one found their video game news on a forum, deeply buried within lack-luster search engines like Yahoo and Excite. If you were really a hardcore nerd then you'd know to find all of the latest news and game talk within forums - where social status meant little, and most things were community driven by old school thinkers and video game enthusiasts from the 90's. You need to keep in mind that when I was online, many websites were still recovering from the "dot-com bubble", and a four letter domain name was still possible to find. Yet, it boggles my mind how so much has changed within my time on the internet, and how hundreds of huge, multi-billion dollar companies have their fingers in everything we do. Does this revolution of social networking and video game marketing mimic any signs which were prevalent before the"dot-com" crash?

In the
In the "in".

When I started video gaming back in the day, it wasn't cool or hip to be a geek/nerd. There were no Gamestops, Blogs, Attack of the Show's, Myspace's, Facebook's, Widgets, Youtubes or anything like that. Most people got a kick out of web-comics or tongue-in-cheek web humor which was mostly derived from nerds on forums. The internet at this time was only beginning to touch on communication between users. Yes we had IRC, AOL chatrooms, Gamespy Arcade, AIM and various other chat devices and forums - but that was the extent of things. Roger Wilco (voice chat software by Gamespy) was about the only "live" feature that the majority of us had. Yet, my attempt in this blog isn't to point out how aesthetics and features on the internet have changed - but more so how marketing and the trends in gaming and web surfing has changed.  There was a story I once heard about an IT technician from 1999, who's main job was to network computers, and fix printers. One day he goes up to his boss and says "I think we should build a website for our company. Now mind you it will run around $2,000-$3,000 dollars; but I think it will help our profits in the long run." The boss puts down a stack of papers he was holding, takes off his glasses and says, "You're demoted. We don't need "BIG" thinkers, we need go-geters." No less than a year later, on March 10 2001, the "dot-com bubble" burst, and the worth and value of internet domain names and stocks plummeted.
Typical cool stereotype = Priceless
Typical cool stereotype = Priceless

This is important to note, because many CEO's were fired for pushing for too much e-commerce and Y2K related expenses; leading many CEO's to switch markets and re-group to come back to fight another day (Social Networking years later). At this time around 2001-2002 when I was just getting into the midst of gaming, no one of any stature or push, ever really discussed this medium of entertainment. Gaming at this time was not an aspect of mainstream media - it was simply viewed as a hobby for nerds. Computer enthusiasts did have a few sources of input from mainstream media, such as "Tech-TV" and conventions like Quakecon and E3. Yet, in retrospect, I don't remember ever seeing commercials or advertisements about computer gaming. I would come home from school and jump on a forum, or meet a friend in-game in Quake 3 or on AIM . I didn't have the luxury of seeing every thought a friend of mine had like you do with Twitter. I couldn't read my friends thoughts, other than what they were writing in their diary's. I was still considered a nerd during this time: someone who was an introvert and didn't like people.

Apple was still fooling around with their horrible "slip-cover" one button mouse, and game developers could only get the word out through unknown gaming websites and small computer enthusiast retail stores. This was a time when Starbucks was simply a coffee shop for wanna-be Seattle-esque college kids. I remember when I wasn't force fed which games I should like, or which websites were cool, and which weren't. I didn't see everyone and their mother walking around with an iBook and glasses. This was a pure time. Where I stood, on an iceberg of a unique community known as the internet, I was in my own niche. Although little did I know that within a few years, this iceberg would sink and would lead to multi-million dollar investments and sponsorships for gaming clans and a world-wide web where everything I did was dumbed down so I could easily communicate with my friends. I feel like back in the olden days of web surfing, gaming, and being a nerd in general, we had our own niche. Gamers and tech nerds owned these proverbial "plains" as you might call them - and we were the cowboys and Indians of the day.

Not until 2004 did computer gaming and technology really start to impact the mainstream. Without a doubt the launch of Myspace and the MTV marketing campaign of Microsoft with the Xbox 360 really launched gaming and computer technology to the fore-front of people's homes. I understand that at this time technology was booming, and most of you who are reading this were probably gamers, and you probably used forums and watched Tech-TV. But I feel as if around 2004, major companies and big business really decided to take a step and bring their money and power into the game. When Fox bought Myspace, this was the start of, what I think, is the downfall and saturation of the world-wide web. I'm not a skeptic, or a pessimist, I'm simply expressing the opinions which I feel. Now I'm all for Web 2.0 style designs, and interacting with your friends. I'm happy that gaming and technology has become a big part of this world which we live in - yet I'm scared for the future. I'm scared to think that my every move, and every thing I do is being monitored by "Big Brother". I'm afraid that I may, someday, be surfing a world wide web controlled by mass conglomerate shareholders, who are only interested in the Alexa chart, and ad clicks.
Your sister is on the internet now.
Your sister is on the internet now.

The internet that I began on, is much different than I ever anticipated it to be. And most of us aren't even looking at the potential ramifications of what is going on right now. The internet, in all of it's glory and all knowing power is being saturated by mass media and social networking websites, which are being bought out and controlled for millions of dollars. These events are a fore-shadow of something major to come. Yes, we all love the internet, and it's become a huge part of our day to day lives - though I'm not discounting this at all. Yet, I want to express my worries, and my doubts as to if what we are promoting today may eventually lead down a path of implosion. We all think that the internet is limitless, but in all actuality most of us don't even know 1% of the amount of websites out there. Yet we are being steered and led to use certain websites in order to surf the internet. And we are led to view ads which promote certain products and certain video games to a certain market which I guarantee has been put through a "think-tank" in some corporate study,  and we are all the mouse in the maze looking for the cheese.

Google is no longer a search engine. Google is a multi-billon dollar company who owns Youtube, and is trying to get their fingers in the telecommunications business and social networking business. And this isn't the only company which seems to have the internet by it's balls. There are thousands upon thousands of companies out there ruining the independent. Luring traffic to their websites from ads and squatters (parked domain). With every dollar and cent being dumped into these social networking websites to bring together millions of people to produce streaming revenue and page views, it's only a matter of time before we begin to reap what we've sown. We will, at some point, begin to see these major websites lose a lot of the pull and strength that they have on the market. It's the natural order of things when something becomes old - something else is the new and hip thing to do.

This, I believe, is the beginning of the end for the boom of the internet. With so much saturation and product placement, so much big business and big brother - all of the signs are there for the internet to stop being what we all know, or once knew; and the beginning of it becoming something aimed at .... well I'm not sure. I can't predict the future, but I can read the warning signs when I see them. To be cool now is simply a bi-product of the commercials and the ad placements that we've been subjected to. Why am I to think that I was a stupid pathetic nerd only but a mere 5 years ago before Microsoft began putting "cool" into video games - but now, no now that we are all accustomed to technology and the biggest and best rigs and top of the line hardware, am I starting to become cool. Yeah, thanks big business for telling me that video games and sitting on my arse for 10 hours a day on your social networking website makes me cool! Because I know that before they stepped in, I was simply a nerd without the tools to navigate the internet. Pfft, I think I'll go buy an iPod, jump on Twitter, watch Attack of the show, buy a Starbucks Latte and push up Facebooks Alexa page rank.