Gaming has gone a long way since it’s inception. It moved from consoles and personal computers to mobile phones, to the internet and, recently, to the blockchain.
Cult classics have become symbols for generations which people can connect through. For many, their video game is a serious undertaking which takes years of dedication. All for the purpose of fun. Maybe other purposes as well. but they lead back to the root of it all: games are fun.
Today — just like other digital-based industries — games are booming. Technology permits developers to build games much faster and with higher quality than ever before. Technological tools (such as game engines and asset creation tools) are constantly enabling people to express themselves creatively — or simply to have fun by building something of their own. Together with social media, people experience new opportunities to learn and share and communicate and exchange opinions.
Many of today’s interactions lie on the internet. Which is good news, because people from all over the world communicate as never-seen-before in history. And in-game interactions have the same impact, if not even more, because of how immersive they are.
Technology allows millions around the world to enjoy gaming as a shared activity. Reports have shown that gamers feel their hobby helps them connect with friends and family.
1. Smartphones are everywhere, all the time
Since smartphones have been released in 2007, they have presented themselves as an ever growing platform for games. And game development companies made great use of them. The mobile gaming industry even overtaking revenue from console-based gaming, somewhere around 2015.
Portability made a big difference, since this has caused video games to reach audiences like never before.
2. The rise of VR/AR
Virtual reality — the technology in which users wear a headset and are fully immersed in computer-generated environments — has been around for quite some time, but hasn’t seen mass adoption yet.
However, sci-fi like abilities have surfaced from this dormant trend which will change the way people experience not only video games, but the whole world all-together. Having HUDs on their vison constantly, being always up-to-date with messages from family and seeing real-time data in front of their eyes. Sounds powerful but also overwhelming.
Jim Kwik, wrote in his book “Limitless”, that nowadays we are surrounded by technology that has a dangerous amount of influence over our thinking processes. Advertisements everywhere! Distractions everywhere! Deals and opportunities galore! It’s overwhelming for any person… Keeping up-to-date is virtually impossible and such huge tides of information can stress out people who try to keep everything in check.
“Any tool can be used for good or bad. It’s really the ethics of the artist using it.” — John Knoll
The 2020 XR Industry Insight report collated by VR Intelligence states that 65% of the AR companies surveyed said they are working on industrial applications, while just 37% working on consumer products and software.
One effect, in gaming and entertainment, that took the world by storm was the infamous “Pokemon Go” game which had people of all ages, roaming the streets in search for pokemons. Just like characters in the cartoon itself.
It was a way for everybody who played it — die-hard fans and casual gamers who might have not cared about pokemon — to experience their reality: capturing pokemons.
I’m surprised that companies didn’t jump on the bandwagon of creating more applications like this, but with different brands. Role-playing games in real-life are a possibility now, and the only tool people need is their ubiquitous mobile phone.
This is the reason why people buy more powerful phones, right? So they can use software like this.
Non-gaming uses in real-life
VR/AR count as gaming, even though they may be used in real-life in non-gaming environments. Because it’s life itself that these tools are emulating as a game!
Games are about reaching objectives and having fun interactions under a set of unbreakable (reliable) rules.
Take Google Maps for example. This is a form of gamification! The minimap now exists in real life — and old-school paper maps are rendered obsolete.
Uber (the ride-sharing company) made use of virtual maps to guide drivers to their destinations, to guide them to pick up people and to gamify this aspect of society: getting from point A to point B using vehicles.
Food delivery services are doing basically the same thing. And all of this is accomplished only by using one tool (which barely counts as AR): digital maps.
What about firefighters, who would wear AR headsets during missions and would be able to see heatmaps in real-time — or the closest path to safety.
How about waiters, who would never have to memorise orders again, because they would be recorded and typed onto an order list — leaving the waiter to just cross-out orders when they have been delivered.
What about healthcare? Education?
There are lots of real-life applications. And companies are already developing solutions. But still, in the tornado which has been the technological revolution in which we are still passing through (combined with the disrupting effects of the global pandemic), VR and AR has not made its presence felt as strongly as it can.
3. Using game tools in real-life
Tools which have been used for creating — and playing — video games have now been adapted to real-life. One example that I am excited about is Unreal Engine being used for architectural visualisation.
This excites me because:
- It’s just like developing a game (or at least its environment)
- The usefulness of it is very easy to see.
- It’s very cost efficient, compared to old methods.
Architectural visualisation using game engines is a step forward in advancing the real estate industry.
But what I personally like most, regarding this, is that there is not much of a difference anymore between playing a video game and actually providing some type of useful “work” for the industry. It’s like playing a video game!
And this concept of gamifying other tasks and industry roles (while inventing new roles) is something that is taking place more and more. It makes one wonder how the world will look like after another 10 years, because at this rate it seems like reality is slowly getting more and more “on the internet”.
Communication is done via the internet, work is being shared on the internet, journalism now lives on the internet, news, entertainment, social services, etc.
We are rapidly approaching a digital life. What will it look like? It’s hard to say… But what we can assume is that every aspect of society today will change and the world will be different. It will be like a dream-state, where there are suddenly new technologies that pop out of nowhere which change life as we know it, rendering old shortcomings obsolete. Fun and work will be intertwined. There will be more real-life jobs which will exist in within game worlds.
Education has moved on the internet a long time ago. Traditional schools couldn’t cope with the amount of new information and were being left behind. Now, due to the pandemic, traditional schooling is taking place in front of the computer (or device screen) anyway.
Below is a list with the population and gaming revenue for the year 2020. The statistic was taken from NewZoo:
In the UK, for example, over 90% of the population counts as internet population. There are some things that people rely on their internet services for, and I’m speaking about day to day activities such as checking what bus they can take, or buying a train ticket, or using Uber. High volumes of purchases are taking place on online shops like never before.
With internet being ubiquitous in people’s lives, there is, of course, the gaming aspect which finds its way into people’s phones and pastimes.
Below we have some data — taken from NewZoo — regarding the global smartphone usage in 2020.
As we can see, smartphones are a totally separate industry from gaming, which is taking over the planet.
The point is that all of this is a platform for internet-based tools to grow onto and, of course, improve in UX — which means they will become more fun and life will soon be very similar to a video game.
Esports is another category that stands on its own. It’s like traditional sports but the sport itself that is played is a video game. Other than that, it has the same attribute that makes sports what it is:
- huge crowds
- global reach
- a lot of media coverage
- enthusiastic fans
Below, we have the most-played esports in 2021 so far:
These values show a rising industry — the industry of video games on a sport-like competitive scene.
There are teams, esports professional clubs, thousands and thousands of hours of training and millions of viewers on streaming platforms and on live events.
And the odd thing is that these types of sports need no promotion at all. The game companies post announcements in their games, and players know when the next tournament will be. There is an entire culture on esports and its still quite complex.
But the best thing about it is that — just like traditional sports — it brings people from different nations together.
5. Video Games as a medium
Video games have been used so far for entertainment purposes and some non-entertainment purposes.
But there is one very important element that makes video games attractive to people, and that is storytelling.
Many old video games have remained in the hearts of users for their characters and stories. Even the ones which had such minimal art in it that it became known as pixel art.
And it doesn’t stop at old school video games. The stories are being written and told nowadays with new titles, and even more pop culture to build on, than before!
And however many live events, virtual events, awards and competitions there are (and there are plenty!) there is something invaluable to the way the creators can communicate with users through the video game experience.
Books, radio shows, movies, TV shows, are all mediums that create a channel between the creator and the viewers, in which they express views or narrate relatable experiences. Video games are the most new in this industry of storytelling and people argue that this is the most important element of any video game.
Indeed, there are some video games that players have fond memories of thanks to the experiences, inspiration and story that the game provided them, and no matter how big or small the video game industry is, story telling is the kernel of a good story experience which guarantees that players will return if not to the game, then to the franchise.