Ever since the beginning of their existence, video games have come up against widespread criticism and scrutiny.
Whether it was your mom telling you your eyes would go square if you played that game any longer, to politicians and campaigners blaming games for a rise in teen violence, children’s gambling addictions or even illegal street racing – it seems very little positive is ever said about games or the gaming industry.
But despite perhaps a widespread lack of understanding and appreciation as to what gaming is all about, it is one of the biggest and fastest growing industries in the world.
In 2021, the global gaming industry was worth around $201 billion, and these figures are set to double over the coming decade. This year, the industry is estimated to be worth around $300 billion. Just to put that in perspective, the global movie box office is worth around $21 billion.
I think it’s safe to say that gaming is here to stay. It is a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages and both genders, and as technology continues to improve, it’s no wonder the games market is set to enjoy a consistent rise in market value.
So – rather than the negativity and constant fear-mongering, perhaps it’s time we pick up the joystick and discuss the innumerable positive impacts gaming has on both individuals and the American economy.
The modern gaming industry provides a huge array of career opportunities – specialist software developers, content creators, voice artists, CGI experts. According to Ibis World, there are currently around 300,000 people employed in the US gaming industry, an increase of 7.4 percent in 5 years.
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Fortunately, despite decades of behaving like bewildered parents who’ve had enough of their teenage kids’ Xbox obsession, the government and educational institutions now finally seem to be treating gaming as a legitimate career path, and many top universities offer degrees and courses in video game development as a stand-alone diplomas. This will not only put the USA way ahead of other nations in its development of future gaming producers, but will also help to ensure the market continues to grow in the future.
The other common misconception about games is that they can be violent, stressful and harmful to those who enjoy them – contributing to addictions and even crime.
Research now indicates that gaming, including violent games, provide players with a significant reduction in stress levels. A study of 1614 game players concluded that the “recovery experience is a significant facet of the gaming experience”.
Of course, gone are the days when video gaming was a solitary business and now, online games can be cooperative and interactive, and gamers very often develop intricate friendship groups and communities involving gaming fans of all ages, colors and creeds.
There is also growing evidence that playing games, particularly games which include an element of problem solving, could slash your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
One major study concluded that playing certain video games for 30 minutes a day resulted in significantly improved cognitive function:
“Results found that while memory was consistent across participants at the beginning of the experiment, two weeks of playing Super Mario or Angry Birds resulted in improved cognition in participants assigned to those games. Furthermore, those assigned to play Super Mario saw additional improvements in cognition and memory function through the following two weeks compared to those assigned to play solitaire, while those assigned to play Angry Birds saw no further progress”, concluded the findings published in Behaviour Brain Research.
So pick up that joystick and let’s embrace the wonderful world of gaming!