Nerd Nostalgia Pt. I: TG’s Gaming Survey Results

In 2013, the global video game market (excluding games on mobile devices) generated approximately $58 billion in revenue. Compare this with $38 billion in global box office revenue for the same year. 2013 also saw a 47% increase (from 2012) in digital home entertainment sales, raking in an estimated $18.2 billion. Yet, some of the gaming industry’s insiders believe that video games are still in their infancy relative to film and music. While that may sound incongruous to the figures above, consider the notion of gaming. Despite the fact that more than 48,000 people attended the E3 conference – the annual trade fair for the video game industry which has become increasingly hard to gain admittance to – in 2013, many people still view gaming as an “alternative” form of entertainment. (1)   e3 wired

(E3 – 2014 Photo Credit: wired.com)

The image of baggy-clothed skateboarders and truants pumping quarter after quarter into Pac-Man or a couch crowded with stoners, their reddened eyes glazed over as they battle the final boss in Resident Evil, is still in many respects the prevailing perception of video games. This view is not limited to the baby-boomer generation. Tuffgnarl.com conducted a unisex poll of digital media consumers ages 25-40 and 57% of all respondents said they do not play video games. The most common reason given for not playing video games was that they cited gaming as an “immature” activity for which they have neither the time or interest. Others, said gaming was “boring,” an “antisocial” activity, and multiple respondents stated that gaming is mindless, requiring little thought or, as one respondent put it, “not the best use of [my] brainpower.”

Interestingly, only one user cited a lack of interest because she saw gaming as a gender-specific activity. Yet, of the 42% of respondents who do play video games, almost half cited “interactivity” as the chief reason for playing while nearly 25% cited “story” as their driving reason for being drawn to the medium. 60% of the “other” responses all alluded to the fact that they play video games as a means of socialization: “playing with friends” and “co-op, not PVP multiplayer” are two examples. Compare that to only 9% who said that graphics – aesthetics – were their reason for gaming. The most surprising statistic was that the majority of gamers polled said that in the week prior to taking our survey, they spent only 1-3 hours gaming. Compare that with the statistic that the average American spends 34 hours per week watching television. (2) stoners

(Photo credit: highroulette.com)

While the sample size of the poll is too small to make grand extrapolations, it is apparent that there is a disconnect in perception. Gaming suffers from an apparent stigma yet Generation Y is leading the charge in making gaming the pillar of entertainment. It has to do with nostalgia. Gen Y is the “me” generation – we do what we love and if what we love does not pay, we make it pay: creativity, entrepreneurism, and nostalgia combined. And the influence of gaming is seeping into other mediums. The Tomb Raider film series has grossed over $400 million worldwide while the Resident Evil film series has grossed more than $900 million worldwide.

Countless television series have been adapted from games and Hollywood and science-fiction heavyweight Ridley Scott is producing a live-action television show based on Halo, which was introduced to a largely positive reception at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. While chalking this all up to a nostalgic love of video games on behalf of an entire generation – Peter Pan syndrome is as common as a cold – may seem presumptive, I had the opportunity to speak with an industry insider who believes that the success of gaming and its successful foray into other mediums has everything to do with nostalgia.

Those of us who do play games or, at some point in our childhood, played video games undoubtedly have distinct memories of those experiences whether it was the scrolling action/adventure game of the late 1980s or frantically searching for ammunition only to find an herb in the original Resident Evil. More than the game itself, you likely remember the music. Video game scores, like the other technological advances that drive their evolution, is an intregral part of the experience. The early MIDI music of Zelda and Mega Man have as much a place in our childhood as any pop single.

On Monday, we will continue our look into the gaming industry when I talk with Mohammed Taher, Founder of Brave Wave Productions.

Very special thanks to: Dr. Jes Koepfler, Director of Design and Research Strategy at Intuitive Company and Roberto Garcia-Lago, Associate Producer at id Software.

(1) Statistics provided by ign.com and cnet.com (2) NY Daily News

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Matt Forster

Originally from Miami, FL, Matt graduated with a B.A. in History from Randolph-Macon College in 2004. He is the author of Perfect Dark, a musician, and an all-around strange person. He resides in Asheville, NC with his wife and two dogs. Follow him @Dalton_Forster

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