The Ripple EffectLike many of you, I am always on the lookout for evidence of trends that will have a positive impact on the data center industry. It helps me sleep better at night, and it always comes in handy when I need to pacify a nervous investor; so, when I read about the need for data centers to prepare for the “gaming driven boom”, I was more than a little excited. I must confess that I’m not really a gamer myself, and I’m not sure if Mrs. Crosby’s endeavors with Candy Crush would qualify her as one either; but, despite never having become an “Elf Lord” myself, based on my on-going observation of the culture that surrounds us, it’s pretty obvious that a lot of folks out there are grappling with Orloc the Magic Troll to gain control of the Sacred Sword of Azarath and alike. Perhaps due to my level of detachment from the whole gaming thing, it is a little easier for me to see that while this surge in on-line adventure constitutes a boon for the data center business—as I always say, “When opportunity knocks, answer the door”– there are also going to be some that are adversely affected by this continued advancement of virtual entertainment. In thinking about this whole phenomenon a little further, it appears that there are going to be some clear winners and losers from this rise in the ability of people to exterminate thousands of Nazis, zombies, evil wizards and other populations of nefarious entities from the comfort of their barcaloungers.

Winners

Snack food manufacturers—Sure we should all eat healthier but when one hand is holding a joystick in a death grip, food options become just a bit limited. Since the use of any type of cutlery is off the table, “finger food” is the logical solution for the sustenance starved gamer and the savvy manufacturer of Cheetos, chips and microwave pizza knows this. As a result, we can all look forward to a future in which the flavor combinations for items like Doritos and Hot Pockets becomes essentially limitless.

La-Z-Boy—Was there ever a piece of furniture better suited to the gamer lifestyle? Formerly the province of the TV sports enthusiast, these adjustable, over stuffed, stain resistant multi-functional heinie hammocks have become the design staple of basements everywhere.

Energy Drink Companies—Whatever happened to Jolt Cola? Yeah I know a lot of people drink this stuff—personally I’d rather down a cup of battery acid, but to each his own—but when your 3:00 am Kazakastanian Halo opponent is fresh from a full night’s sleep, you need something to level the playing field.

Hanes—When the scope of your daily activities doesn’t even reach the top of the basement steps, who needs pants? Thankfully, the average gamer still observes some level of sartorial decorum and the folks at Hanes (and their stockholders) appreciate it. Whether they are boxers, briefs or one of those hybrid alternatives, underwear will continue to be a must in any gamer’s wardrobe.

Greeting Card Companies—The average gamer is nothing if not appreciative, and a $4.95 Hallmark Mother’s Day card will always be the best way to say I love you to the women who boasts that her son is a Level 90 World of Warcraft warrior to the girls in her Bunco group.

Losers

Sunscreen Manufacturers—If more and more folks continue to seek the subterranean comforts of their parent’s abodes the future doesn’t look so bright for these guys.

Dry Cleaners—Have you ever tried to get Cheeto’s stains out of Gandolf T-shirt?

Board Game Manufacturers—If I can take over the entirety of the Eastern Kingdom by myself, why would I want to hide my power as the “shoe” in a quest to capture the Reading Railroad?

On-Line Dating Services—Can you really date if it means leaving your house, and the closest you come to human interaction is asking your mother to make you a sandwich? This probably has larger demographic issues but that’s a little bit too complex to get into here.

Grandchildren—See On-line dating above.

Fathers—Sure your son is referred to by fellow gamers as “Space Lord”, but that’s small consolation for the fact that he still lives rent free in his old bedroom, avoids the daylight like a vampire and is 28 years old.

Newton was the first to assert that for every action there is an equal and positive reaction, and it doesn’t look like we have to look further than the gaming boom to find evidence of its accuracy. Life is full of winners and losers and, most of the time, we don’t have to look to closely to determine what side of the line we’re on. Personally, I am buoyed by the opportunities this mode of personal entertainment portends for the data center industry, but I am realist at heart, so you’ll have to excuse me while I call my broker and short my stock in sunscreen companies and Milton Bradley.

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