Will Gaming Come to Your Multiplex?

As a gamer, I’m enamored with the idea of playing a shoot-em-up on a 50-foot screen, surrounded by Dolby audio. And I can’t be the only one.

Unfortunately, these incidents are rare, but on Monday and Tuesday, the stars will align, and Sony will let people in four U.S. theaters try the upcoming (and universally lauded) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for the Playstation 3.

If you don’t happen to live in Rosemont, Ill., Bellvue, Wash., San Francisco or Thousand Oaks, Calif., there’s good news: In a Reuters interview, Mike Fidler, Sony’s senior vice president of Digital Cinema Solutions and Services, suggests that this isn’t a one-off thing. In explaining that he wants more theaters to go digital, Fidler said that gaming “will be an important part of that equation.”

From Fidler’s remarks, it’s easy to dream up gaming nights, or perhaps the ability to rent out a theater for an evening of Killzone 2. A Canadian chain already does this during off-peak times, for the totally reasonable price of $169 for two hours and up to 12 people (a movie ticket doesn’t cost that much less at that rate).

Not to be a party pooper, but I see a major roadblock here. The best big-screen games — shooters and racing games — can at most be enjoyed by four people at a time, and even splitting the screen reduces the coolness factor. Given that a movie theater is designed to entertain lots of people, you’d be looking at minimal playing time with any more than a dozen participants. And let’s face it, most games aren’t that fun to watch from the sidelines.

If Sony does get the Playstation 3 into more theaters, I’m sure the Uncharted 2 event won’t be the last of its kind, but for most of us, I have a feeling that any significant gaming time in a theater will remain a fantasy.

Jared Newman is a contributor to Technologizer. For more smart takes on technology, visit Technologizer.com.

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