It used to be the military that spurred cutting-edge technology—but these days, video games are doing the heavy lifting. To wit, the world’s fastest supercomputer is powered by processing cores manufactured by a gaming graphics-chip maker. As for the iPhone, "much of its technology—color LCD displays, low power usage, precision manufacturing—was perfected for hand-held videogames like the Nintendo DS," writes Andy Kessler in the Wall Street Journal.
And while World of Warcraft and Call of Duty players are "killing Orcs and Trolls and Dwarves," you don't have to be a gamer to see that "within the next few years, this is how traders or marketers or DNA hunters will work together. No more meetings!" Say goodbye to the military-industrial complex: "Welcome to the entertainment-industrial complex." The reasons for the shift? Big volume, which drives down cost ("caffeine-fueled coders won't even think about writing apps unless there are millions, if not tens of millions, of potential customers"), and big bucks, writes Kessler. Once, tax dollars were required to fund giant tech projects; now the stock market can do that. "Hate Wall Street all you want, but it's now better than wars at driving progress." (Read more video games stories.)