A colleague and I were recently talking about some Internet access trouble he was having at home. Strangely enough, this trouble only seems to manifest itself when he is in the middle of a World of Warcraft raid, and stranger still, it seems to affect only World of Warcraft. All other Internet apps continue to work properly. This discussion led to some of the exotic troubleshooting techniques he has seen suggested on various support forums.
For quite a long time, I have felt that most of the significant hardware advances we see are the result of gamers. Gamers’ needs push hardware development. If it weren’t their needs for better sound, better graphics, more RAM, more processing horsepower, and larger/faster hard drives, most standard productivity applications probably wouldn’t be nearly as advanced as they are today. The GUIs wouldn’t be as advanced. The programs probably wouldn’t be as powerful because the baseline for processors and RAM would be much lower.
Just as games have pushed hardware along, I think they are also pushing along troubleshooting skills – at least for gamers. Gamers are working with firewall issues and router configurations. They’re checking software and driver conflicts. They’re installing new components to optimize their computers for the game-playing experience. They’re exploring the innards of their computers in ways that their peers find intimidating. The result is a group of people who, from a young age, are being trained to diagnose and solve technology problems. I find it interesting that it takes a game to draw some people into the realm of troubleshooting. But more people developing these skills should be a good thing, right?