Gaming is big. It’s been for a while, and it’s getting bigger with each passing decade.
How big is big?
Here’s an indication – it’s worth $200 billion and is expected to rise to $ 300 billion by the end of this decade.
The industry’s contributions to promoting culture, improving social networking, and providing entertainment cannot be understated. What started off as research experiments in computer labs began to take over the world in no time. Billions of people around the world are gamers, thanks to the evolution of technology where the games are playable on arcade machines, desktop computers, mobile phones, and handheld systems.
Gaming has come a long way since the first popular video game Spacewar!
Today, hyper-realistic graphics, incredibly intelligent AI, emotional storylines, and subplots are all part of the gaming experience. All of this has been made possible through the technological advancements made in the field of computing.
There’ve been occasional slumps in the industry, in terms of performance and market value, but these have not deterred big game development companies from producing quality content. The crash of 1983 was attributed to the absence of quality games and the over-saturation of consoles in the market. It was the typical let’s-join-the-gravy-train story, where the market got swamped with poor quality games. Several companies including (believe it or not) Quaker Oats began to develop video games in order to cash in on the popularity. Atari’s E.T , developed in six weeks, was dubbed as the worst game to have ever been created.
The turnaround for the video game market’s ill-fate came when Nintendo brought in strict regulations for third-party game developers for its entertainment system known as NES. This led to the development of other regulations by console-makers through which they tried to control the release and use of games that were developed in a rush. Such regulations helped to instate quality control. Over the years, gaming has begun to cement its position among the pillars that uphold the entertainment industry.
The media and society have always attributed violence in youngsters to the bloodshed and gore in the video games that they seem to spend a lot of time on. This has been disproved time and again but is still subjected to debates within scientific circles. Games that portray violence usually do not affect adults as their cognitive senses have already developed enough and games do not impact their minds. However, the same cannot be said about children who play games filled with violence. It was identified that when certain adolescents spent a lot of time playing video games that belonged to the action genre, they were at risk of being prone to aggressiveness. It can also lead to game-addiction and antisocial behaviour, that put the mental health of such children at a very high state of risk. It can also affect their social relationships and cognitive abilities. Spacewar! enjoys the record of being one of the most played games on Steam, a popular game distribution service. It was found that gamers used Spacewar! as a trojan on Steam in order to load pirated games on the platform and that the legendary game itself wasn’t as popular among the users. Fraudsters exist virtually everywhere and games are no exception. They blend in with the gamers and steal personal information that can later be resold.
However, the good outweighs the bad. Online gaming tournaments see massive turnouts and boast of highly attractive prizes for the winners. Gaming tournaments are being touted to have more viewership than NBA in the coming years. Games are a matter of personal choice. There are games for every occasion and most gamers play games to either keep themselves entertained or to destress after long work hours. In an online poll, a lot of gamers seemed to share the idea that gaming improved emotional well-being. The participants of the poll also stated that gaming communities promoted forming strong friendships. The pandemic has shown great examples of gamers bonding over video games. Applications like Discord have gained popularity among gamers during the pandemic as it helps them to hang out digitally and carry out entire conversations.
Online multiplayer games have managed to bring together people from different parts of the world and have helped them to understand how a team works in achieving a common goal. Games for change, a not-for-profit organization, “empowers game creators and social innovators to drive real-world impact through games”. The games for change student challenge is a game design program that aims to provide a platform for youngsters to learn and develop games about global issues. Such programs help to generate an empathetic outlook in the minds of young people, thereby making them “macro-minded citizens”. It also helps to develop communities based on common goals and skills which help in creating a better generation of self-reliant humans.
Although many industries were hit hard by the pandemic, the gaming and eSports industry has not been severely affected. In fact, studies have shown that around 45% of cellphone users were introduced to gaming during the pandemic. Investors are attracted to the gaming industry as it has seen a boom during these times. This is a sign that the industry is sure to stick around for longer than most of us thought.
Gaming has produced tons of career opportunities for youngsters with an active imagination and a penchant for creativity. Some of the careers in gaming include game designing, game development, animation, character designer, game tester, sound technicians, gamers etc. Game designers are those that develop the concept for a game and it requires people who have great imagination and the ability to tell stories. The game developers program the game into its final form and it requires a lot of technical knowledge about programming and game development. The character designers create artistic impressions of what the game may look like so this job requires a bit of creativity and artistic skills.
Animators are those that bring the artistic forms of the game to life and require knowledge about bringing pictures to life. Game testers test the game as it is being developed and the final product. This requires people with talent who can look for things that most others may miss. The sound technicians are responsible for providing audio to the games. This includes background music, noise, character voices etc and requires one to know about audio enhancement, capturing, editing and creation tools. The gamers well, play the game and let the development team know what they think about it and what needs to be modified in order to appeal to the masses. Game development and design courses are offered by Universities and Institutions such as University of South California, New York University, Falmouth University, Academy of Art University, New3dge, Gnomon, and Escape studios among others.
There are many other related jobs created by the gaming industry other than ones that involve the actual development process. Game critics are those that play games and share their thoughts about the end-products. They may be professional gamers or mere observers but their insights are valued by potential customers. Streaming is yet another byproduct where both amateur and professional gamers stream videos of themselves playing different games in exchange for views that almost always translate to money. Gamers themselves are being hired for other opportunities as gaming skills are considered to be transferable. The ability to remain calm under pressure and respond as per the requirements of a particular situation is something that most employees look for in a potential candidate.
The opportunities in the gaming industry are limitless, curtailed only by one’s creativity and the thirst for knowledge. Games are no longer simple devices that help children to pass time. They are intricately designed art, capable of winning either adulation or contempt. If you are one that loves playing video games, then you are not a misfit but the best fit.