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TECHLIFE; Winning the generation game online.

Byline: Edited by BOB LOW

A NEW generation of Internet kids - some as young as six - are taking over the world, according to a leading technology expert.

The new breed have already spawned one of the latest cyber buzzwords - "Net-Genners" , referring to those children and young people who are smarter and more independent than grown-ups.

They were brought up with the World Wide Web and are forging ahead of their out-of-touch parents.

In future they can expect to earn 25 per cent more than those who don't regularly surf the Net, according to Dr Jim Schwartz.

Schwartz, a strategy executive at IBM, revealed all at Edinburgh's International Science Festival last week.

What he didn't reveal is just what happened to get these kids cyber-smart in the first place ... the games industry.

For the last two years, no game that expects to sell in Lara Croft numbers would be without multiplay options - the ability to link up over the Net and play with complete strangers.

It's what prompted Sega to ditch the Dreamcast and aim to produce a "set-top" box, which lets you download and play games from the Net, missing out the part where you go to the shops for the CD.

Connecting to the Net is what helped sell both the Dreamcast when it launched and the new PS2. It is the biggest feature of Bill Gates' new Xbox.

Up until recently, the online games industry was one which seemed guaranteed a dot com future ... then one of the the best of the lot, Lothians company Barrysworld, went belly up.

When Gameplay followed in the wake of that, everyone shivered. This was the company which had taken over BT's Wireplay...

Which had gone into the High Street to sell boxed games via Dixons. Of course, it turned out that selling boxed games in the High Street was funding most of the rest, but they kept that quiet.

In the same vein, e-district sacked their boss, Steve Laitman last month and are suing him for millions, following the news that he allegedly hyped the hits on the website, just as it was launched on the market.

When said alleged hype became public, trading was frozen - and when it re-starts will fall faster than the front of Emma Bunton's blouse.

Happily, Barrysworld and Gameplay look like getting back in the game - but in a cyberspace where the kids clearly want to play, who is going to be around long enough to make it pay?

Here's a quick guide to what's around - and who's likely to stay the course.

PAY TO PLAY

THERE are companies already making a success of charging a monthly fee for online access and the games they offer are built to be played online.

In "massively multi-player" games, thousands of people can play in the same virtual land, interacting with one another.

Quake, Unreal, Counterstrike and Half-Life are the favourites here.

Top site is probably Microsoft's The Zone - where you can play for around pounds 6 a month.

Each month you download an update which changes the game - the current favourite is Asheron's Call, where some six thousand people log in and some are still recovering from a giant battle with the HopeSlayer, when it rained blood across the land.

You can also get into Hercules and Xena, DragonRealms and a few others in the hack and spell department ... but not too many of the six-and-upwards set seem keen on Bridge.

www.zone.com

E-TAILERS

COMPANIES can still make money from gamers, without charging for servers by using the time they have your attention - downloading new patches, or organising fresh gaming get-togethers - sell them more games.

This was Gameplay's ploy and, once the dust has settled and they have worked out a way to make advertising pay for it all, I think they'll flourish.

Currently, they are still up and running and still one of the best online gaming websites around.

www.gameplay.com

GAME GIANTS

PUBLISHERS - the people who make, market and shift games through the high street - are starting to suss out that there's a clicks and mortar market they've left untapped.

Consequently, a few of the larger ones now have servers, which can also monitor how people play for market research, as well as promoting their other games.

EA - Electronic Arts - is probably the world's biggest publisher and does the Fifa series as well as a slew of other top sports in game form. They have a smart system, too - for example, www.janescombat.net links together eight of EA's combat simulation games. Now you can do what George W really, really wants and go to war with the Chinese

www.ea.com

DR SCHWARTZ predicts that the Net-genners will earn more than their parents. Some already do and, in the nation's darkened bedrooms, children clasping computer consoles have a new excuse to avoid homework:

They can just tell their mum and dad, "I'm training - call my agent."

The rise of the sophisticated and lucrative computer games circuit has spawned a new breed of adolescent - fleet-fingered professional players who can earn more than pounds 100,000 a year,

Now players' agents have made their first entry into the market and tournament organisers predict that the best players, with a suitably sharp and radical image, will become the Beckhams of tomorrow.

Roland Glover, 28, is probably the first "cyberathlete" agent. He has snapped up some of Britain's top players, including Sujoy Roy, who gave up a job at the investment bank JP Morgan to earn six figures.

However, the Brits are lagging badly, behind the Americans and the South Koreans,where an estimated 1000 people make their living from playing online games.

Most of the top British players travel to America to compete for the bigger pots in tournaments organised by the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL). The season culminates with the World Cyber Games in Korea, with prize money of around pounds 170,000.

To get sponsorship, though, pimply geeks can stay at home. The Net- genners are all trying to look like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.More than a game SOME 600 people brought their computers to Newbury Race Course recently and spend a week there eating, drinking and sleeping Half-Lite. Launched in 1998, the shoot-'em-up saga of Professor Gordon Freeman's battle with radio-active creatures has mutated into numerous bloody sagas, called "mods", that rage online 24-7. Players join clans and try to "frag" one another with near-religious zeal.

www.planethalflife.com

MORE violent than Quake, more Machiavellian than Age of Empires, the gender battle is raging in online games. Girls have ventured into a gameplaying world normally inhabited by men - the gorefest that is Quake online - and formed all-female "clans" to play as a team. Now they want game characters, such as Lara Croft and other "S&M Barbies in too-tight clothing", given the boot.

www.womangamers.com

www.gamegirlz.com

THE free downloadable games site Freeloader.com may be resurrected soon, for UK fans only. The US-based site, which had 750,000 registered users, closed because the ad money dried up - but the British end was in profit and it's up for grabs along with the technology.

www.freeloader.com

IN-SITES

BEE STINGS (http://project.honeynet.org) The Honeynet is actually a collection of 30 or so professional IT experts, dedicated to uncovering all they can about the "blackhat" hackers so that companies can better deal with them. It began as a study of all the hackers attracted to a certain Linux machine in Illinois back in November last year. Like the police's Q-cars designed to entrap car thieves, this machine was a "honey trap". 13 experts traced, analysed and forensically examined the methods the hackers used.

POLITICAL GAMES (www.fm365.com and www.gAL.co.za) If you thought online gaming was simply a nice way to waste time and money, think again. The Chinese, in between bringing down US spyplanes the hard way, are up in arms about FM365.com, a site designed to promote anti-corruption laws, which promptly included a game inviting participants to execute corrupt government officials from the past. On the heels of that, gAL.co.za, a Zimbabwean website with an axe to grind, had a game of skill and daring involving landing Mir on President Mugabe's head.

SLEEKEST LINK (www.nbci.com) Find out what US TV viewers think of Anne Robinson's Weakest Link with NBC's special, smart website.

TECHLIFE Q&A

Q I HAVE an email list that I do not want to lose - I have heard of viruses that destroy them - so I want to back it up to disk. However, OE only seems to let you save one email at a time and, at that rate, I will be dead before they are all safe. - K. Hamilton, Glasgow.

A PROBABLY the easiest way is to look for anything marked *mbx. Outlook creates an *mbx file for each folder - so put all your important emails in a folder, call it anything you like - "Vital", for example - then look for the "vital.mbx" file on your system. Once you find it, back up this file and all your emails will be on it.

Q I HAVE a file sitting on my Windows 2000 desktop and I want to move it to a Windows 98 desktop - how do I do that? - L. Frew, Edinburgh.

AMUST be spring-cleaning week - everyone is moving stuff about! The easiest way is to Cut from one desktop and Paste to the other

QHOW do I restart my PC in safe mode and in Win98? I have Win200 on the same machine and every time I try to restart in safe, by pressing the F8 key, I end up with Windows 2000. - J. Lamont, Glasgow

ATHAT'S because F8 is the safe restart for Win2000. To get Win98, hold CTRL while it boots up, then select the third option.

Q WHENEVER I go into the My Computer control panel it takes ages to load up and freezes when I try to shut it down. What's up? _- L. M., Glasgow

A YOUR problem is Quicktime. Try deleting the Quicktime.CPL, leaving only two icons (16 and 32 bit) in the Control Panel.

Got a problem? E-mail B.Low@dailyrecord.co.uk

Give a farewell smile for Harvey

SAY goodbye to Harvey Ball. You might not have know him, but he almost certainly made you smile. You and a few hundred million others, in fact. Harvey, who died this month aged 79, is the man who invented the smiley face, two black dots and an upturned curve on a yellow background. No, I didn't know anyone had actually invented it, either.

It became the symbol of the hippie generation of the Sixties and Seventies, the acid clubbers of the Eighties and Nineties and is the most-used "emoticon" of the Net chat and mobile phone generation.

Harvey designed the Smiley Face to boost employee morale of two merged insurance companies in 1963. In 1971 alone more than 50 million buttons were sold and the image has been reproduced countless million times.

But the man who created it probably was one of the few who didn't smile when he saw it. He never took out a copyright and made about pounds 200 out of it.

www.youknow.com/ smiley/

THE hunt for paedophiles online is now in full cry and the biggest aspect of it is the number of new law enforcement units devoted to cybercrime.

We already have the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) , the National Crime Squad, HM Customs and Excise and individual units of various police forces - seven new officers have been found for the Scottish end of NCIS, for example. Last week, the National High-Tech Crime Unit came online, launched by Home Secretary Jack Straw and designed to lead the fight against Net fraud, hackers and paedophiles.

In the midst of all this positive crimefighting, we have the other side of the Net coin - Internet company ENI has taken a legal action to secure permission to show Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh's execution.

Entertainment Network Inc. argued that people have a Constitutional right to watch, but their claim to being people's champion rests shakily on Voyeurdorm.com, a collection of 55 webcams which let people see college students "in action".

YOU could soon be giving Chris Tarrant a hard time from the comfort of your own armchair - ITV has landed the broadcasting rights to the first interactive TV version of the hugely popular Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

They've bought the UK interactive TV rights for that, as well as the UK rights for online games, which are already a hit in Germany and the US and both may be available soon on their website. That should make Robinson the weakest link.

www.itv.co.uk
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 21, 2001
Words:2134
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