When it comes to gaming, you’re talking about an industry that’s worth billions, with gaming revenue in the USA reaching $23.5 billion in 2015. So who’s playing? Well, it seems like everyone.
According to PEW Research Centre, 77% of people own smartphones, on which a lot of these games are also being played. Surprisingly, the demographics are varied – according to Statista, 67% of 18 to 29-year-olds have partaken in gaming at least once, with 58% in the 30-49 years bracket. And, 26% of people over 50 currently play now, which shows that there are people of varying ages playing to even that out across the board. And, despite a widening gender gap (ESA figures indicate that there are actually fewer female gamers in 2017 over the past few years, at 41% of the total), it’s still fair to say games are… well, anyone’s game.
Taking a look at social gaming, and you’re talking 48% of people worldwide getting involved, according to the latest ESA report. So, just what is social gaming? It can mean a variety of things. It typically involves some kind of interaction between real life players (over a headset or a chatroom for example), although sometimes there’s social network integration too.
What Kinds Of Games Use It?
Social gaming is not exclusive to one segment of the market. It’s highly popular, demonstrated across a range of games.
World of Warcraft storms the PC market, with many players making friends and joining leagues to fight battles with others. Currently, there are around 5.5 million subscribers worldwide. Many players talk into a headset to strategize, whilst making friendship groups among the teams. Over on Xbox, the story is similar – teams playing first person shooter games like Call of Duty can team up to intensify the gaming experience in a group. Often, these people will be strangers, but they’ll build a relationship as they’re forced to use teamwork to all reach the same aim of success.
Over in the UK, the UK Gambling Commission reports that there’s been a 22% increase in people playing bingo on their mobile phones and it’s popular here in America, too. This industry has also sought to tap into the social gaming market, with some sites, like Sun Bingo, hosting a community of like-minded players to chat over 75, 80, and 90 ball games. Chatrooms on Sun Bingo serve a few purposes – they remind players that there are people like them who have won the jackpot but they also provide a friendly atmosphere where welcoming new players and giving advice is actively encouraged. In short, they build up a safe sense of community!
Gaming Can Be Social and Active
Participation in games is not just about sitting in front of a screen anymore. Brands are going that one step further and wearable tech is the hottest thing around. In fact, 47-48% of Americans surveyed said that they would wear fitness technology and these numbers are not limited to the young and fit. In fact, 17% of the senior market wears it. Now, some may argue that fitness is not a game, but some of these companies who promote such wearable tech and the apps that coincide would disagree. They are incentivising the use, for example, with a product called NikeFuel.
The giant fitness brand, Nike, is of course a household name, but in turning to the wearable fitness market, they have gone for a competitive angle. Friends and users in general can compete against one another, with the idea of pushing themselves harder with their fitness goals. They’re gamifying the act of getting fit and healthy, and the prize is knowing you’re the most active you can be. Now, that’s social!
Is Social Gaming For Everyone?
There will of course always be people who prefer to do every activity in isolation but it’s nice when we feel a connection with other people. In fact, studies published in Scientific American show (without being dramatic) that social support even boosts your chances of survival by 50%!
The reduction in the number of female players in gaming doesn’t mean that women should avoid the space; in fact, younger women in particular can actually multi-task better than men, as has long been suspected, which will help with their gaming abilities because they can focus on both strategy and execution of techniques all at once.
Overall, social gaming seems to give people balance. They can play games and enjoy themselves, without cutting themselves off from the world – and surely this can only ever be a good thing?