Gaming tools of shells, sticks, stones and bones have been found worldwide in pre-historic and ancient sites, reminding us that people have always had a desire to play, whether the purpose was for learning, practicing focus and concentration to support simple survival or for actual leisure entertainment. Games have also served as important religious events (even including human sacrifice) and been used for military training.
Looking at today’s gaming industry, you wonder how people can create such a panoply of games that keep alive the passion, even obsession of today’s diverse global audience of gamers. But I follow Walt Disney’s belief that creativity depends on looking at old things in new ways. For example I always think of the ancient game of equestrian polo as the early version of the popular arcade game “Whac-A-Mole.” So whatever a person’s interests may be, there is sure to be a game to match it and provide hours of enjoyment for all of today’s growing generation of gamers.
Today’s Gaming Market
It’s impossible to cover the entire industry in this space; today’s games can be played on smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices, TVs and consoles, casual webgames and PC/MMOs (computer massively multiplayer online). According to newzoo.com, gamers generated a worldwide total of $99.6 billion in 2016 revenues, up 8.5 percent compared to 2015. The largest revenue segment in 2016 was the computer screen games at $31.5 billion although the largest growth segment on a year-to-year basis was personal smartphone games which had a 23.7 percent increase over 2015 numbers.
Gaming is big business due to the constantly changing entertainment value it provides. Thanks to both the continuing advances in technology platforms and the creativity of game developers, the constant upgrades to older games and the new ones being released actually keep today’s attention span-challenged population hooked.
Today’s games are totally fan-centric. You can choose to play by yourself or as part of a team; you can also choose to play superhero in a past or future age; win a war or create a new planet; rescue a queen or a whole new universe; or simply learn how to bowl or play tennis using a Wii. The gaming industry has learned the secret of throwing a good party – getting everyone involved in having a good time. It’s something they do superbly.
The operating philosophy for the industry’s large multi-day conventions is to “meet, make and play,” offering daily play, games, tournaments, prizes, workshops and more. There are segments for participants to meet game developers and actually beta test new games as well as play older games; they can speak with industry experts and artists. They can also attend various workshops, even including ones for children, like learning to build their own robots. And if you don’t want to play, you can still be part of the fun by participating in the cosplay phenomenon where you dress like your favorite character. This is an ingenious way of building on-going generations of gamers who are just waiting for the next new game or convention to arrive!
By Connie Wardman
Part one in a four part series on Video Gaming.