On my recent honeymoon trip to the Caribbean I flew on Virgin Atlantic. Imagine the feeling of joy I experienced when I took my seat and saw the entertainment system control that looked very much like a gaming console control. The shiny black plastic with the familiar yellow/red/blue/green colour coded buttons as well as left and right bumper buttons had my hopes raised high.
I had to wait a while to see what gaming gems were waiting for me as the entertainment system wasn’t switched on until a good 20 minutes into the flight. When I got to grips with it, I was slightly disappointed. I shouldn’t have been really, what did I expect? Xbox? The games available were simple and quite dull by today’s gaming standards. Titles included Backgammon, Blackjack, Chess and Cave Crunch (a maze based “action” game), not quite what I was hoping for. There was a multiplayer option so you could play against other passengers, but it didn’t float my boat. After a quick browse I quickly dismissed it and reverted to my iPhone (in Airplane mode, of course) and enjoyed some serious gaming including Championship Manager 2010 and The Settlers.
This got me thinking, however, that if Virgin Atlantic have an onboard system that allows literally hundreds of passengers to watch, pause, fast-forward and rewind nearly 50 movies at their discretion as well as play some albeit basic games, then it can’t be a large jump to having a next generation gaming console linked to the seat backs. And on a 7-hour flight I can’t think of a better way to pass the time. Considering that the average age of gamers is considered to be between 30 and 40, it’s not like it would be a feature that only kids would use in-flight.
I can but hope at the moment, but you never know, maybe in the future airlines may see that gaming, as an ever growing portion of the entertainment market, is a great way to help passengers forget that they are strapped into 400 tonnes of metal being propelled at 500mph through the air at 37,000 feet. Sobering thought.