The time of gamers as basement dwellers is long gone. Children, women and older people, as well as young men, are all playing and viewing video games, while the line between games and social media is blurring. At present, video games are moving beyond the traditional essence of a video game, forcing us to rethink in which areas video games could enter our lives. What lies ahead?
- Whereas video games are still mostly associated with PCs and consoles, global revenue from mobile gaming ($36.9 billion) has exceeded that of both PCs ($31.9 billion) and consoles ($30.8 billion).
- With the rise of mobile gaming, video games are no longer confined to young adults. Of the four cohorts, the 50+ group is the second biggest one (27%).
- Whereas players traditionally follow a set path, video games increasingly allow players to create virtual worlds. Meanwhile, viewing video games on livestreams is becoming as popular as playing the game itself.
- Since e-sports have elevated video games to live entertainment by filling stadiums, companies in media, technology and sports have entered the gaming industry, largely to reach millennials.
- While games have always been social, video games have intensified this social character with split screen, online multiplayer and now livestream platforms like Twitch, which act as social networks for gamers.
- Whereas older generations once regarded them as a threat to society, younger generations have elevated video games to live entertainment level and can obtain university scholarships for e-sports.
Video games have rapidly spread across society. When gaming was still a niche market, a subset of men played video games, largely by themselves, on personal computers: social engagement was confined to arcade games. But when video games became mainstream, children, youth and adults were playing multiplayer games on their consoles as a hobby, connecting to each other all over the globe. In our current phase, women and elderly people are playing on their smartphones and tablets, while youth and men are watching professional gaming matches and social gaming networks are emerging.
Video games are expanding beyond the traditional essence of a video game. Gamification of physical activities with augmented reality will make boring tasks like cleaning fun, and profoundly change running, cycling or sailing
There are several drivers behind this evolution of gaming. Because we tend to play games on the devices we spend most of our time on, and increasingly do so, new platforms and opportunities for companies emerge. As these devices become more accessible, they appeal to more demographics, which has increased their social acceptance: the first generation of gamers is now passing the experience on to their children. These new generations are not merely playing games: they are viewing livestreams to enjoy an experience out of the ordinary, just like playing the game. Finally, games have always been social, and video games increasingly appeal to our desire for social interaction and a sense of belonging and community.
Video games are expanding beyond the traditional essence of a video game. Gamification of physical activities with augmented reality will make boring tasks like cleaning fun, and profoundly change running, cycling or sailing. Pokémon Go already made walking outside more fun. As such, games will have an even wider appeal across demographics. Social gaming networks could become immersive virtual worlds for all ages, blurring the line between games and social media. E-sports will gain even more social acceptance, as universities hand out scholarships and matches are broadcasted. Viewers of these matches could increasingly be enabled to influence the game: Twitch Plays Pokémon is a concept in which more than a million viewers collectively finished a game with chat commands. Fans could soon contribute towards victories of their favorite streamer.
As video games are breaking boundaries, the very essence of a video game changes and forces us to rethink in which areas video games could enter our lives, beyond traditional computers, consoles and smartphones.