Since people like THINGS, the repository becomes a social tool

I've been working lately on the social and cultural consequences of digitalization (for a client, not for my research). One of the side effect in the video game market is that boxed PC games decline as digital downloads rise according to marketing firm GfK:

But the way in which people get their games is getting a makeover as game makers experiment with online distribution as an alternative to boxed CD-ROMs. Some companies are even betting that PC gaming is on the cusp of a download revolution, much like its entertainment counterparts in music and video.

Meanwhile, Electronic Arts Inc.'s, Comcast Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are offering games-on-demand services in which computer users buy subscriptions to access and download PC games, ranging from "Scrabble" to "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell." As more households get high-speed Internet connections, downloads become more practical. Downloading computer games can take anywhere from just a few seconds to a few hours, depending on the file size.

Why do I blog this? I am wondering about how would the boxed game market will evolve. I tend to think that people like "things", meaning that with the explosion of digital music we've seen a total show off ipods and other mp3 players. It's as if the objects (which are now a repository for digital content) are even more important compared to past walkman/discman:

  • PERSONALIZATION: people tune/hack/mod them (see the Schulze and Webb personalization project)
  • SHOW OFF: people show them (the ipod nano, usb keys as necklaces)
  • SHARING: people share information locally with them (see Weilenmann, A., & Larsson, C. (2001): Local Use and Sharing of Mobile Phones. "“The sharing of mobile phones observed in this study raises questions about the notion of the mobile phone as a personal device, belonging to and being used by one individual")