40 years. That's how long, give or take, we've had video games. They were only created in the first place because tinkering techno-geeks couldn't figure out what else to do with early computers. And today even normal people with real friends who go outside sometimes are joining in. Everyone's playing.
40 years. And yet it's only recently that the industry has begun, gradually, to end its masturbatory fixation with better graphics – traditionally measured by how many polygons are deployed in Lara Croft's chest - as the be all and end all, and evolve not what we play but the way we play.
This week, Minecraft arrived on Xbox 360. The vision and creation of one thoroughly pleasant, unassuming and now stupidly rich Swedish bloke, Markus "Notch" Persson, it's a phenomenon on PC, nothing less than Lego for the 21st century.
And it's a game where the 'game' bit is actually up to you. You mine, you craft, you build whatever you like, and you share it with everyone, everywhere. Like the madman who built a scale model of the Starship Enterprise. Or the maniac who reconstructed the Death Star. And on, and on.
Anyway the point is, Minecraft is all about you, doing what you want, how you want, personalising your gaming experience in a pixelated playground of infinite possibilities. And on Xbox it's made the transition beautifully, so there's never been a better time to get your blocks off. Just try not to burn your own house down like an idiot.
That's the personalisation of today, but what next? A glimpse of the near future of gaming comes with the discovery of a couple of patents filed by Microsoft. One is for a pressure-sensitive controller that can apparently identify you from the way you hold it – which sounds like the next step on from Kinect, which is already able to recognise who's standing in front of its beady 3D eye.
More interesting, though, was a patent for a "wearable EMG device" - in layman's terms, sensors that can be attached to your body and which respond to movement.
Meanwhile, wearable hardware is also coming in the shape of Google Glasses, which are all fine and dandy for web nerds, but more exciting for gamers is the news that the mighty Valve is working on its own version. Where the maker of Half-Life and Portal goes, we can be fairly sure games will follow.
But these are just the tip of the iceberg for a broader trend that will change the way we game forever: biometrics. Up until now, games have only been able to adapt based on crude assumptions of who we are and how we are playing, e.g. tweaking the difficulty if I am smashing up the AI like a badass/getting brutalised.
Imagine, though, a game that knows how fast your heart is beating, whether you're anxious, sad, happy, angry, guilty or just really ashamed about that video of Tulisa you've been watching all morning. It's coming.
But what does this actually mean for the type of games we'll be playing? Take something like LA Noire, Rockstar's 2011 crime thriller, in which players have to work out whether people were telling the truth or not based on their facial expressions.
Biometric data could turn this on its head, using cameras and sensors to put the player under the spotlight, trying to catch us out if we're bullshitting.
Or imagine a football game in which you're playing as a specific player in a critical, win-or-die cup game. You're bricking it and Xbox 720 knows it, so it adjusts the AI team's tactics to hound you hoping you'll crack, even getting opposition supporters to start jeering your every touch, willing you to screw up.
Or how about Trials: Bio-Evolution, with courses generated in real-time, where the game can feel whether you're on edge, or confident and change accordingly, chucking out evil obstacles if you're getting too cocky, or easing off if you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Right now, basic forms of this tech are used in fitness games, such as the heart rate monitor that came with EA Sports Active 2.0, or the upcoming Xbox Joule, that apparently does the same thing across a bunch of Kinect games.
But really, we're barely scratching the surface of what's possible when games are able to form a complete map of the player based on biology.
We've spent 40 years watching games evolve. Now they've started watching us.