Over the lifespan of the current generation of game consoles, the first person shooter, or FPS, has risen to become one of the most popular genres among Western audiences. Budgets of the best-selling series have swollen to eight figures to meet public demand for ever-more visceral simulacra of wars contemporary and futuristic. (Historic settings have fallen out of favor.)
"Faster, more intense" was famously George Lucas's preferred direction to actors, but it's an apt mantra for the developers of the ever more intense and glossy single-player campaigns. The thrill and the spectacle have helped to cement a handful of perennial franchises in the consciousness of the gaming mainstream.
But more important still may be the online multiplayer modes where dedicated gamers play in the weeks, months, and years after the fleeting delights of the campaign have faded from memory. For every hour clocked in single player, many gamers will spend days facing off against unseen (though often heard) human opponents in dedicated multiplayer maps.