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The domination of Sega and Nintendo ended in 1994 when the Sony's PlayStation came out. The first PlayStation was a huge success, surpassing both Nintendo and Sega in popularity. In the following years, Sega tried to stay in the hardware market but ultimately decided in 2001 to concentrate on software development. Dreamcast was the last console Sega released to the market (Sheaf, 2006). In competition with Sony, Nintendo began to specialize in children's games, whereas Sony targets older age groups. Today, the first PlayStation is still one of the pre-eminent gaming platforms. It was followed by the PlayStation 2 in 2000, which at the time was the most successful platform. In 2001, Microsoft became a competitor in the gaming scene with its console Xbox (Laramie, 2007).

Two elements characterize the success of electronic gaming: synergy and convergence. A relatively insulated industry in the 1970s and 1980s, electronic gaming entered the synergy-driven media market of the late 1990s with explosive growth and great effect. Cross-promotion and brand licensing allowed gaming to become a significant aspect of popular culture. Nintendo's Pokémon game spawned animated TV shows, movies, comic books, action figures, and trading cards, in addition to sales of 75 million Pokémon-related games worldwide, netting the company more than $14 billion. Lara Croft, Tomb Raider's virtual heroine, has become a media celebrity; she has appeared on countless magazine covers and in several commercials, and was featured in a live-action movie in 2001 (Sheaf, 2006).

Technologically, electronic gaming spurred numerous advances, most notably in 3D graphics-rendering hardware and software; online gaming servers that allow for real-time interaction among players; and numerous peripheral devices, including high-quality sound cards and computer speakers, force-feedback controllers, and voice-activated controls. Gaming has been a huge impetus for linking the personal computer, the television, and the Internet (Laramie, 2007).

With Web-surfing and DVD-playing capabilities, the inclusion of hard-drive memory, and eventual connectivity to printers and other PC peripherals, the newest gaming consoles are being envisioned and marketed as full-scale “entertainment systems.” Relatively cheap compared to PCs, they combine computer and video gaming, online gaming, movie-viewing capability, and access to online information and shopping, blurring the previous distinction between the PC and console platforms. These advances have resulted in gaming going mainstream, as women, girls, and older adults join young males to widen the demographics of the gaming market (Sheaf, 2006).

In 2005 and 2006, the next generation of gaming machines entered the ...
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