Until a decade ago, video games were a pastime for teenagers and adults who needed to unwind after a busy day. Now, with the rise of eSports, endorsements by the media and acceptance by non-gamers, online games are part of the mainstream culture.
How did it all start? Video games trace their history to the 1950s, but it was not until 1972 when the first eSports tournament occurred. Precisely, two Stamford University students competed in a Space war game for a year’s worth of the Rolling Stones magazine.
Over the years, gaming fans have been competing at remote cyber cafes for small and huge prizes. Last year, the prize to win the Fortnite World Cup was $3 million—a reward won by 16-year-old American Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf. Stick around to learn how online gaming became a culture and where’s it’s headed as an industry.
Gone are the days when only kids played online games. Today, the average gamer is 35 years old, and up to 10% of players are over 55 years. What’s more, everyone plays online games: men and women, the rich and the poor.
Around the world, online gaming is a culture that spans from North America to East Asia, South Africa to Brazil. Crucially, the Internet has been helping the sector develop tremendously. This explosive growth means gaming has cultivated itself as an established industry in the world.
And sure enough, gaming is one of the biggest sectors on the Internet. Forbes estimates the industry to have earned revenues of around $138 billion in 2019. And that’s just for video games. When the iGaming industry is included, these numbers jump to above $200 billion.
To put some perspective, Facebook made $17 billion, Hollywood $42.5 billion while the global music industry earned just over $20 billion in the same year.
Like all industries that form the mainstream culture, the online gaming sector loves to cross over with other areas for economic or social benefits. Let’s start with Hollywood. Some of this year’s most anticipated movies all took their inspiration from video games:
- Tomb Raider 2
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Minecraft: The Movie
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Monster Hunter
In the iGaming business, slot machines developers do the opposite. They look for the best Hollywood franchises or video games and turn them into new slot games you can play for real money. The result is an exciting yet profitable experience. To spice things up, casinos award you free spins or cash to multiply your bankroll so that you play some of the games for free.
Casinos aside, online games regularly also partner with traditional sports, TV and the music industries. Think of football simulation games like FIFA 2020, gaming shows and soundtracks made by some of the most successful artists today.
Parents as Gaming Advocates
Multiple studies show that young parents are more than likely to support kids who love gaming compared to older parents. In one research conducted in the UK, up to 75% of interviewed parents admitted they regularly play games with their children.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, considering people aged between 18 and 45 years make the largest gaming demographic. On the other end, young parents spend a lot of their time with hand-held gadgets.
In many working-class families, almost everyone in the house tends to have a mobile phone or a tablet device. Parents don’t always play games, but they support their kids when they want to use their devices for gaming.
Some video game commentators believe the growing trend of families to play online games together with fuel an increase in family-oriented games. Of course, Lego has been doing that for years. But the niche is yet to be explored with online games.
Support by the Mainstream Media
When the world’s most famous TV show host Ellen invited the most renowned video game streamer Ninja in 2018, it was evident eSports was a sport as big as football or basketball. Sports networks like ESPN and TNT have gone the extra mile of airing video game segments.
Additionally, the media has come a long way from slating video games to showing support when others condemn them. A case in point is this article by the Guardian debunking a perception that games are created for the sole purpose of addicting players.
In the wake of mass shootings in the US, media stations have been vital in reminding parents and non-gaming fans that games have nothing to do with violent people. The Time magazine wrote an article last year plainly stating games do not cause mass shooting while CNN and CNBC pointed out that there was no evidence to support such a notion.
Besides the media, celebrities and athletes have played a huge role in popularizing and giving credibility to online games. From rappers like Drake to athletes like Steph Curry and Antoine Griezmann, it’s not once that famous people have talked about their favourite games.
Drake, for example, has played games with Ninja before. Curry, on the other end, has made his love for PUBG public, and so did Griezmann with his regular posts about Fortnite.
For some, learning that teenagers have been making millions playing video games online is when they started appreciating the industry. Others have always known you could become a millionaire playing poker and slot machines but didn’t think it could be done online.
Regardless, the truth about online gaming has been spreading worldwide. Not only are people making money playing games, but they are doing it as careers. There’s a wide range of job opportunities for people who love to play games. There’s is:
- Selling Gaming Merchandise
- Esports journalism
- Video game testing
Most of these jobs don’t require college degrees. But they ask for a great deal of passion, talent and hard work. The most popular streamers, for example, play video games in upwards of ten hours per days. And as a result, they are excellent at gaming and have become famous doing it.