With the global video games market expected to bring in revenues of over $100 billion in 2017, it’s clear that gaming is now about so much more than trivial entertainment.
From professional gamers earning big money from eSports competitions and slots games, to young people using games for educational purposes, it’s clear that the uses of video games are evolving at a phenomenal rate.
The early days of video gaming were filled with simple titles like Pong and Space Invaders that required little more from the gamer than a skilled use of hand-to-eye coordination.
But as computer technology became more sophisticated, titles like Microsoft Flight Simulator and Football Manager started to successfully mimic real-life activities to add a degree of realism and complexity to the gameplay.
However, it was when internet technologies arrived that things really took off. This is because iconic games like World of Warcraft used super-fast broadband technologies to enable massively multiplayer games to once again improve the scope of the gameplay to the point where some troubled gamers found it hard to return to normal life.
Whilst there would always be a gaming audience of slightly obsessive teenage boys who ensured that the likes of Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto would be relentlessly successful, the demographics of video games have broadened dramatically in recent years.
As a result we can now see the likes of Minecraft: Education Edition being a tool in the classroom for helping to produce the next generation of coders, whilst the evolution of slots games has been extended thanks to the likes of LadyLucks seeking to cater to adult gamers with their casino gaming website.
There’s also been the interesting development of distinct camps of hardcore and casual gamers. Whilst the dedicated eSports player will spend thousands on next-gen consoles and updating their PC build, the growing legions of casual gamers seem to require little more than a smartphone or even a hybrid console like the Nintendo Switch to get their gaming action.
But it’s the arrival of augmented and virtual reality technologies that could be a real watershed moment for video gaming culture. We’ve already seen how Pokémon Go was the first AR gaming hit, and so it remains to be seen whether the first breakthrough virtual reality game will be a first-person shooter, a simulation, or even a simple slots game.