Learning and bridging the family divide with video games
While there has been increased scrutiny of the video gaming industry over the past decade, it has consistently remained a medium that keeps on growing. Aside from the financial aspects of the industry, video gaming has the ability to help increase cognitive learning in children, help family members of all ages interact and connect, and help companies communicate important ideas to consumers.
According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), “in 1996, the U.S. entertainment software industry accounted for a modest 74.1 million units sold and $2.6 billion in sales revenue. Fifteen years later, video game companies sold 245.6 million units, leading to an astounding $16.6 billion in software revenue and $24.75 billion overall.”
Additional research released by The NPD Group, in 2011, U.S. video game software sales reached $8.8 billion (229.8 million units) and computer game sales were $450 million (15.8 million units). In addition, consumers increasingly enjoy digital game content. The NPD Group reports that purchases of digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, subscriptions and social network games accounted for 31 percent of game sales in 2011, generating $7.3 billion in revenue.
Aside from the immense contribution to GDP, gaming has the ability to increase cognitive research capabilities. The NPD Group’s research shows that gaming helps student increase math test scores, learn new languages, learn about history and health, and more. More regionally relevant games include Impact Games’ “Peacemaker”, which puts gamers in the hot seat as the leader of one of two nations to negotiate peace talks. The impact this has on a child’s social and moral advocacy can be astounding.
For all the learning and financial capabilities and potential of the gaming industry, it’s important to remember the entertainment value that these games bring with them. This entertainment value has been shared by consumers of all ages, especially with the expansion of gaming mediums from consoles, to laptops and desktop PCs, as well as tablets and even Smart TVs.
In the larger context of family gaming, parents are a growing segment. According to the ESA’s “2012 Essential Facts” report, 40 percent of parents play games with their children at least weekly, with 61 percent of parents saying that games encourage their family to spend time together. 90 percent of the parents involved in the study also said that they play games with their children because it’s fun for the whole family.
A Digi-Capital report found that the PC will still be the go-to platform for gaming in 2013, far outperforming online social games in both investment and revenue, and continuing to outperform console and mobile gaming. Overall, however, the fact remains that gaming across multiple platforms and multiple age groups is supporting the ever-surging number of the gamer community.
Interestingly, the increase in gamers can also be attributed to the gamer culture. The research also shows that, on average, gamers have been playing games for approximately 12 years, with as much as 48 percent saying the reason they play games with their children is because they enjoy them just as much. It stands to reason, then, that gaming is a tool that brings families together and bridges the divide between young and old family members, creating an interactive gaming ensemble under one roof.
Since the introduction of mass gaming almost three decades ago, immense strides have been made in terms of the mediums used, the content created and the types of gamers attracted. Gaming has evolved from being just an entertainment channel into what is now termed “edutainment,” helping adults and children alike learn, engage, develop and lead more creative, constructive lives.