Let Them Play Games

Button-bedecked, baggy-panted teens in search of the latest blood-and-gore games seemed to be less of a presence at this year's Macworld Expo SF than in Expos past. Judging by the array of offerings in the gaming area, it's easy to see why -- vendors that once focused exclusively on hard-core games are adding card, board, arcade, and quiz-show games to their product lines.

MacSoft, for example, says the success of the iMac prompted the company to diversify its lineup to include such titles as Links LS 2000, a golf simulator; the board games Monopoly, Scrabble, and Risk; game-show titles Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy; and Mac Kids Pack for gamers-in-training (Pong and Centipede have also been announced). Monkey Byte and Freeverse have released arcade-style games and card games (such as bridge, hearts, and cribbage), respectively.

The upcoming Myst III: Exile promises to breathe new life into the adventure game space. Aspyr Media's The Sims has been wildly successful, and MacPlay has just released Majesty, a sim with elements of empire building and real-time strategy (though the company's first-person shooter, Sin -- featuring hideous mutants and a Lara Croftian femme fatale -- has been a bit more successful).

That's not to say that the major players are turning their collective back on hard-core gamers; MacSoft, which after all made its name with such carnage-filled shooters as Quake and Duke Nukem, expects the similarly violent Rogue Spear (the successor to Rainbow Six) and Unreal Tournament to do well.

But the market is clearly there for such nonviolent games -- witness the three-deep crowds around the demo machines. Another motivation: "Get 'em having fun on their Mac," says MacSoft's Lance Seymour, "and maybe they'll become hard-core gamers."

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