No Shame in My Game
The gaming industry is a mystery to most people who are not engaged in the mesmerizing allure of being in another world. Many people like myself, prior to diving into the business and the healthy mindfulness of gaming, make many assumptions which I’d like to demystify. What I find incredible is even in the face of empirical evidence, many of us refuse to acknowledge the systemic power gaming has on our lives economically, psychologically, and socially. Gamers find it pleasurable and relaxing as well as enjoy the ability to listen to music and multitask if they choose to. There is so much to gain and very little to lose by talking about our shared experiences. The challenge is that many gamers don’t admit they are playing and should come from behind the curtain as they have no shame in their game.
The best anecdotal example I can give is having a conversation with my 50-year-old cousin at a big family dinner who admitted he had just spent $400 in add-ons for a game. The family members were mortified that he would spend that much money on what appeared to them to be a silly indulgence. We all joyfully laughed, but as I looked around the table some of the laughter was from nervousness. Nervous because his admission of being a gamer and spending that much money on add-ons likely gave him a feeling of uneasiness. He stated that he was embarrassed to say it even to a loving family audience. Of course, I was encouraging the discussion and piping in with numerous statistics so that we can better understand the world gaming, and move to meaningful discussions about the gaming space in general. The reality is, knowledge is power and I looked at the conversation as a teachable moment.
All of the adults in the room viewed gaming as a kid’s activity not realizing that according to Newzoo there are 2.3 billion gamers worldwide and the average gamer in the United States is 35 years old (source: ESA), which means some players are 10 and some are 55 years old. The gaming industry’s impact far outweighs the movie and music industries at $40 billion, and $30 billion respectively with gaming revenues weighing in at a hefty $138 billion a year. I recall having a desire years ago to invest in up and coming burgeoning businesses in companies like Home Depot, Starbucks, and GameStop. They all had the appeal of solid management, phenomenal growth, excellent marketing, and huge market share. Why is it we see our families, friends, and coworkers gaming but still tend to ignore its potential in all phases of our lives? Some people shame or judge gamers that are above 14 years old. According to my son and his friends who are in their early 20’s, they stated that they don’t admit to gaming due to the risk of an immature perception, although most of them do. They also stated they would never initially admit to a girl that they are gamers unless they already knew she was a gamer. Let’s deal with the reality that gaming is a part of all of our lives, in one way or another.
All of the adults in the room viewed gaming as a kid’s activity not realizing that according to @NewzooHQ there are 2.3 billion gamers worldwide and the average gamer in the United States is 35 years old (src: @theESA).Tweet
Someone made a statement that a colorful animated game he saw was only for kids. I asked him if he had ever been in a doctor’s office and seen a 40 year-old playing Candy Crush on their cell phones. He laughed and said he had seen it many times. I have even seen Candy Crush advertised during news programming. According to
Another example of our collective “hiding behind the curtain” is my college age daughter who recently rediscovered the Sims game. When we discussed my career as a gaming executive, she shared with me she was playing Sims again. I fondly remember spending loads of money over 10 years ago buying add-ons she absolutely had to have for her imaginary world of nine children. Not long ago, she went to an all-girls event at her college where they engaged in teambuilding exercises to get to know one another. She had no shame in her game by asking about their gaming habits and they all admitted to playing Sims as an adult too. The gender gap between males and females in gaming is quickly closing. Today, 40% of gamers are women. Who knew?
The image one thinks of as the most popular games are Grand Theft Auto (GTA), Fortnite, and Sims but we tend to dismiss the games we play on our cell phones like solitaire, chess, and Sudoku. Recent studies have suggested that mindless activities like gaming improve health by not thinking about our day to day challenges. The Today Show recently had a segment on knitting and crocheting as being relaxing because of its repetitive action. I would imagine that gaming offers that too. Gamers should be proud to discuss their gaming prowess and should think of all of the avenues to cultivate and participate on the business side of the industry’s growth. Therefore, make new friends by sharing your pleasure and passion for gaming and have no shame in your game.