The evolution of gaming as a luxury hobby
There was once a time when ‘electronic gaming’ meant sticking coins in an arcade machine at a dingy shopping mall. A time when consoles were bulky, with awful sound quality, and a target audience of anti-social kids. In modern times, gaming has become so sophisticated that it appeals to virtually anyone interested in immersive entertainment, exhilarating experiences, and cutting-edge tech. From sleek mobile gaming device and the best ergonomic gaming chairs, to a state-of-the-art surround-sound system and in-game items; people are increasingly prepared to invest money in gaming.
When exactly did gaming work its way into today’s luxurious lifestyles? How did gaming consoles go from shopping malls to the office playrooms of CEOs? Let’s take a look at those developments within the past decade which have helped elevate gaming to a stylish hobby on which people love to spend serious cash.
Esports showcases the money in gaming
Investors are fascinated by the industry potential of esports, while major brands are sponsoring events and teams. Even casual gamers enjoy the excitement of a televised esport match which, just like all major spectator sports, offers a social betting appeal. Above all, esports has demonstrated that video games are now a ‘sport’ like any other; with professionals who take it just as seriously as footballers take their job (and they’re on the way to earn as much as footballers, too!). There’s a massive amount of money that goes into esports, and a huge amount of exposure that comes out of it. This has helped normalize gaming as a hobby that might can justifiably invest a lot of time and money into.
Mobile gaming broadens the gaming demographic
Today, mobile gaming accounts for almost as much revenue as PC and console put together and a lot of this newfound gaming territory is populated by women. In fact, studies have found a strong preference for mobile gaming over PC or console among women. However, this should not be understood as women simply stopping with mobile gaming – the effect of this influx of female gamers is to normalize and represent women in gaming more generally, leading to more women also exploring gaming on PC and consoles.
Furthermore, the convenience posed by ‘light’ games that one can download and take with them anywhere through their device, has appealed to busy individuals with ‘on-the-go’ lifestyles, for which traditional gaming is not practical. The massive growth in interest for mobile games has led to mobile manufacturers optimizing screen resolution, sound, speed and other UX factors that affect the ease of gameplay. It’s also injected new life into the online casino sector, with both high and low variance slots, along with traditional table games like roulette, having attracted high rollers on-the-go in their mobile game format. In short, mobile gaming has made general gaming accessible for both women and men with jet-setting lifestyles and money to spend.
In-game items from microtransactions are status symbols
Another undeniable evolution of gaming which has elevated the hobby to one in which it is possible to acquire respected ‘status’ has been the introduction and normalization of so-called microtransactions, which are in-game bonuses or virtual items purchasable for real world money. Some of these are marketed in the form of “loot boxes” containing randomized rewards. While microtransaction mechanics emerged in mobile gaming as an alternative monetization scheme to selling games with an up-front cost, the gaming industry as a whole has certainly evolved such that it is no longer rare or remarkable for even console or PC games to include microtransactions.
Why is this significant? By sporting certain items in a multi-player online game (these items often being referred to as ‘hats’ or ‘skins’), players are now able to signal to others that money has been invested in one’s character or gameplay. Many have argued this leads to unfair gaming, yet there’s no doubt that others love the opportunity to show off with expensive in-game items as a way to flaunt their dedication and wealth.
Mainstream appeal has created demand for state-of-the-art gaming equipment
In broader society, one of the major evolutions of gaming over the last decade has been the increasingly mainstream context of gaming. While movies from ten years ago as a rule depicted gamers and gaming as a trivial hobby for socially awkward young men, increasingly this perception is disappearing and is being replaced by the more contemporary and accurate depiction of gaming as something enjoyed by men and women of all ages across the globe. In other words, there’s no shame in having en entire room in your house dedicated to gaming, filled with expensive equipment to heighten the experience. On the contrary, gaming is so mainstream that being able to boast such consoles, equipment and ‘game rooms’ would impress most people, and stir jealousy in the rest!
Hollywood actors have brought glamour to the gaming industry
The mainstreaming of gaming culture over the last ten years or so has had the exciting knock-on effect of celebrities openly expressing appreciation for the medium. Actors such as
Terry Crews, Mila Kunis, Henry Cavill and Megan Fox are all self-exclaimed gamers, with many of them and others lending their likeness and voice to video games. The increasingly close connection between mainstream media and gaming is a fascinating ongoing evolution of the industry.
Virtual reality takes the experience one step further – into luxury gaming
When talking about the exciting evolution of gaming, it’s impossible not to mention virtual reality. Increasingly VR is being explored as an innovative form of gaming through which new stories can be told or old stories revisited from fresh perspectives. Hugely successful games from the last decade, such as Skyrim, are now seeing VR versions developed, while likewise entirely new games are being developed specifically to be experienced in VR. Ten years ago, this level of VR integration into gaming was a fever dream, but today gaming has fully embraced accessible VR equipment and is poised on the brink of further huge breakthroughs.
Who knows what other ways the gaming industry will evolve over the next decade to make gaming more stylish, popular and luxurious? With the ever-broadening global interest in video games and mobile games, and the money that is subsequently poured into the industry, there’s only a matter of time before new, extravagant and deluxe innovations are brought to gaming.