If you are not one of the tech-savvy new parents who grew up playing video games themselves, it’s likely that the world is unfamiliar to you. Fear not! In this post, I guide you through what parents should know about video games in 2018.
First of all, you should put aside all your prejudices regarding games. Games are a way to have an experience and tell a story, much like a book or a movie. More importantly, they are a way to share those experiences with friends. We have come a long way from the arcade style games that did not really offer much besides having to master a simple task. To get an idea, check out this video about the evolution of games in the last 60 years:
This video gives a pretty good idea of how games have changed in terms of graphics and gameplay mechanics. Of course, this is only a tiny fraction of the games available. Games nowadays have a substantial impact on different parts of our society, and that influence is only going to go up.
Before we start, if you want to have a little warm-up and get to know some of the gaming lingoes, you can check out this list of gaming terms.
The financial impact of games
Video games are a huge market. And everyone is a participant. Game studios, gaming accessory companies, streamers, advertisers, eSports athletes, and regular players all have their parts to play. According to analysis firm Newzoo, the global games market will be worth almost $140 billion in 2018, growing 13,3% from 2017. The growth is even more staggering on mobile, which now accounts for over half of the market.
Besides the traditional way of making a game and putting a price tag on it, there are now different ways to monetize a game. Candy Crush Saga, the game that costs absolutely nothing to play, and yet is racking up around $2,300,000 in daily revenue. This is possible because of so-called micro-transactions. Games usually have some kind of alternative currency that allows the player to speed up their progress in the game. And that is bought with—you guessed it—real money. To get an idea of how the game keeps players engaged, check out my piece about Candy Crush Saga.
It is obvious from the numbers that the largest companies in gaming are doing quite well. The climb to the top can be challenging to say the least. The barrier of entry to releasing a game has come down considerably with the rise of mobile gaming. For example, there have been from 20 to 40 daily game submissions to the Apple App Store. There are open source tools available for anyone to create their own games.
Video games as a job
Believe it or not, people love to watch other people play video games. There are individuals who make a living playing video games as well. Hobbyists—and nowadays professionals as well—who share live video of themselves playing video games are called streamers. The three major platforms for streaming video games are Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Mixer. At any given moment, a million people are watching video game streams on Twitch, and the number of streamers is growing rapidly.
The other type of earning gamers is eSports athletes. An eSport athlete is someone who plays video games competitively, usually in a team. The players are sponsored by companies, have strict training programs and even have their own training facilities. Just like traditional athletes. It is even possible to get a formal eSports athlete education.
Nowadays there are tournaments all around the world, and eSports is one of the most aggressively growing sectors of the gaming industry, predicted to reach $1,5 billion by the end of 2020. And the tournaments are massive. The most popular games include MOBA games Dota 2 and League of Legends, and FPS games PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Overwatch.
Of course, none of this would exist without the people who make games. Video game industry employs over 65 000 people in the United States alone. This includes programmers, graphic designers, composers, writers, analysts, and many more job titles. Game studios are cross-discipline workplaces, and mostly known for their great company culture. The industry evolves fast and these companies have to keep a progressive mindset at all times. That helps to attract the best talent as well. The number of jobs the industry creates is many times multiplied if we count the indirect jobs as well.
I think it is safe to say games are a lot more than a pastime for nerds. They contribute considerably to the economy and create jobs. Games are also at the forefront of technology adoption. For example, artificial intelligence has had many successes in the recent years in the world of games.
Why it’s good people play games
We usually only hear about the negative effects of playing games can have, especially on children. Video games can have a lot of positive effects as well. Dr. Peter Gray lists compelling research evidence on the improvement of visual processes, attention, and problem-solving abilities. The positive effects in many ways outweigh the negative. There is plenty of research available about the benefits of playing games.
Video games allow us to simulate situations that would be expensive or even impossible to rehearse. Without these simulated environments, we would have much less competent surgeons, firefighters, and even astronauts, to name a few professions. Even if we are not simulating the exact situations, the skills we develop in video games are directly transferable to the real world.
Games are works of art in many ways as well. Professional artists have designed the worlds and characters. Real composers have composed the music. Imaginative story writers have written the stories. Games can lead us to enjoy other forms of art as well. For example, symphony orchestra has gotten a boost recently thanks to video games. Games are also made into TV series, movies, and books. Did you know the world’s most popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft is augmented by 23 novels? Now there’s a way to get those gamers to pick up a book.
Game mechanics have become so popular the concept of gamification has surfaced. Gamification means that a task, for example in a workplace setting, is enhanced with game mechanics. That can mean implementing a simple reward system or a competitive mechanism. When we get more familiar with games and what motivates us, we become better at designing the future workplaces as well.
Video game phenomena of the recent years
Some games have been more successful than others. There have been those who have been super successful for a short period of time. Others have been able to build devoted, lasting player bases. Some titles stand out in this crowd, and here are a few examples of different types.
Whether you love it or hate it, no one can deny that Fortnite is hot right now. Boasting over 40 million active players and topping the streaming charts on all major platforms, the game has taken the world by storm. The battle royale, or the PvP part of the game, is completely free and available for 6 different platforms, including mobile. The game pits 100 players in a gunfight against each other in one arena, and only one comes out victorious. As the name suggests, the players are able to build their own forts as one form of survival.
Grand Theft Auto V
The latest addition to a long-running franchise Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) was released in 2013. The game sold 12 million copies on its release day and is the fastest selling game to date. GTA V is an R-rated game where the idea basically is to be the biggest and baddest criminal. People have criticized the game for its violence, but that’s mostly why it is so popular as well.
The cube world of Minecraft is appealing to kids and grown-ups alike. Again, the name gives us a little hint of what’s to come: the players mine different kinds of resources and craft items and structures for their use. Just by scrolling down the game’s website, we can see its basically possible to build anything in the game. According to statistics, there are 61 million players in total, and almost 500 000 of them play at any given moment.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you have probably heard of this one. Pokémon Go was the first game to have massive success with augmented reality. The game mechanics make the players walk around in the real world to catch and train the creatures called Pokémon. The creatures were made famous by the anime (a type of Japanese cartoon) of the same name. In May of 2018, the game still had 147 million players.
World of Warcraft
Since its launch in 2004, World of Warcraft (WoW) has become the world’s most popular online role-playing game. The latest expansion was launched just weeks before this post was written, so the game is very much alive and kicking. The players are part of either Alliance or Horde factions and fight together against each other and the creatures of the game world. The number of WoW subscribers was around 5 million in 2016 when Activision Blizzard last gave a public update.
After reading all this, don’t you think it is great people engage with the video game ecosystem? It can improve and teach them a lot, and even lead to a job if they take the most out of it. If you have not played in a while yourself, I suggest you give it a try. An easy way to start is to find the most popular games in your phone’s app store.
Is there something else you would like to see me write about? Did I miss something important in this post? What’s your opinion on games? Comment below, send me a message on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!