We all know gaming’s big business. But not many of us know just how big it is. So here are a few figures to put it into context.
In 2019 it generated a global revenue of $152 billion. That’s more than three times the amount of cinema box office takings ($43 billion) and eight times the amount of money made by recorded music ($19 billion). And it’s not getting smaller, either. It’s estimated that by the end of 2022 the amount of money generated directly by video games will exceed $196 billion – and continue to rise.
But gaming is changing in other ways besides growing bigger and bigger.
Alone no more
For a long time, the stereotypical image of a gamer was as someone who shut him or herself away in a darkened room and played solo games with only a box of take-out pizza for company. Perhaps they might invite a friend along sometimes for a two-player shootout but generally it was regarded as a solitary and rather antisocial pastime.
Then games like the ever-popular FIFA series and the global phenomenon that is Fortnite came along. Hence forth, gaming started to get a lot more social. Going on in the background of this kind of transformation were a couple of other elements – eSports and the the rise of Twitch.
These both started to bring together gaming fans not to play, but to watch other great exponents of the particular games. Part of the enjoyment was to also start conversations online about what was going on in the game as well as bringing in other topics and themes along the way.
Suddenly, far from being the pastime of loners, gaming started to become more inclusive and welcoming, allowing new friendships and bonds to develop, often with the participants never actually meeting each other in real life.
Keeping in contact
In terms of how players can now interact while playing, this has started to take many forms. There are the chat rooms that most multi-player games now include as standard and, more prevalently, players equip themselves with headsets. These have become an essential gaming item that makes communication even easier and more instant.
This increase in sociability has done more than simply making the game more enjoyable. A recent study by the University of Oxford has found that playing video games with others can actually have a very positive effect on mental health. The researchers surveyed a wide range of players who had been taking part in two games, Animal Crossing and Plants v Zombies asking them questions immediately after play. The overall findings were that players had a sense of wellbeing. In analysing why this should be, the conclusion was that by socialising over a game it creates a kind of “water-cooler moment” that brings with it a real sense of closeness.
A trip to the casino
Another industry that keeps a close eye on the world of gaming is the online casino world. Always keen to see trends and identify what is proving to be effective, the sector has also started to introduce more social aspects. This is only logical as the “bricks and mortar” versions of the casino are social, and sociable, places where people go to mix as well as to gamble.
While it’s always going to be hard to replicate this with purely digital games, this is where the live casino element of sites like 888 Casino Canada come in. This involves a real dealer running a game like roulette or blackjack while the action is live streamed to a player’s PC or mobile device. Because there’s an actual person involved, just as they would be in an actual casino, it means the player can chat to them online as they play, greatly enhancing the experience.
Thanks to social media
Something else that can’t be ignored in the increasing sociability of all gaming is the importance of social media. This has brought people together in a way that’s never been experienced before. Relationships can be built or maintained remotely, making this a completely normal way to be social. It’s a barrier that, now overcome, means any reservations gamers may have had in the past about socialising with people they may never actually meet are not relevant anymore.
Looking ahead, there’s a great deal of excitement about the implications of virtual reality for social gaming. In the not-too-distant future it may well be possible for players to meet up in a virtual world to play. In some games they may co-operate with each other, in others they may be adversaries. Whichever’s the case, it’s going to take social gaming to a whole new level.
But this is something for the future. Right now, there are more than enough games, and more than enough ways, to be sociable when gaming. And many of today’s players just wouldn’t have it any other way.