Wednesday , June 29 2022

Gaming Isn’t Child’s Play Anymore: Why Teens Are Gaming 

Compared to the Duck Hunts and Marios of our youth, games these days are far more complex, beautiful and layered. The increase in computing power has led to games with stunning, near-realistic visuals, which provide a truly immersive experience for those who play.  

Most adults typically don’t have the time to explore these worlds in great detail and tend to stick to casual gaming instead, but Gen Z, especially those who are still teenagers, have made gaming their go-to hobby. From lightweight mobile games to gear-heavy gaming setups, these youngsters have now taken gaming to the next level, many of them even considering a career in it. Games also help build a community as teens bond with each other over their shared experiences. They also provide a world for teens to feel like they’re the heroes of their own story and can achieve epic things, something that the real world often doesn’t allow them to feel.  

So it’s no surprise that the gaming user base surpassed 365 million in March 2020 (as per KPMG’s media and entertainment report) with the number expected to reach 250 billion in the next 2 years. Among these, most of the heavy users and professional gamers tend to be young. This is large because teens are now looking at gaming as a legitimate profession, and because mobile gaming is making even heavy gaming accessible to more people than ever before. This has a significant impact in a country like India, where more than 50% of the population is under 25. Even within the gaming fraternity, 60% of India’s gamers are under 25, a significant portion of whom are 19 or younger. And it’s not just the metros where gaming is taking off in such a big way. Ahmedabad and Mumbai are the only Tier 1 cities to make it to the list of the top 10 gaming cities in India, signifying the massive growth of this segment in Tier 2 & 3 cities and towns.  

While a majority of regular gamers are still male, there is a significant and growing population of female gamers who are gaining their own fan base, even within games like BGMI or Free Fire, which are first-person shooter games — a domain long seen as a male one. Gamers like Official Chika Gaming and McQueen_Live have a massive presence on both social media platforms as well as streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube. And this trend only seems to be rising. In fact, most youngsters today don’t even care about the gender of their opponent, as long as they can play the game.  

There’s an increasing preference for games that include a healthy level of competition because these give teens an opportunity to be great at something and build specific skills — without going through the pressures of formal education. Now that the esports industry is booming and is creating its own celebrities, more and more teens see this as a lucrative opportunity. But it’s not just gaming as a career — there’s also a market for hyper-casual gaming, a replacement for mindless social media scrolling to pass those empty moments.  

The reason teens love gaming so much is that it’s the easiest way to escape from boredom and stress. Even when everyone else is busy with their own lives or stressed about their future and can’t come out to chill and relax, they can still relax by playing games. As humans, we’re just trying to find an escape, which leads some teens to use drugs or alcohol, experience rage or even indulge in self-harm. Gaming is a healthy way to prevent all that and still find a quick escape. 

As someone of an older generation, it’s easy to write off gaming as a waste of time or a non-productive hobby, but the more I see how much potential there is — both within and outside these fantasy worlds — the more I realise that serious or casual, solo or social, it looks like gaming is here to stay. Not to mention the world of opportunities it opens up. From designing games to testing them, from playing them competitively to creating engaging experiences, gaming is an industry that seems to be getting everything right. In fact, “gamification” is now a north star for almost all industries, from commerce to social media. Companies are taking lessons learned over decades of gaming to build products and experiences that are as addictive, if not more. Daily rewards, engaging content, punny notifications — they all work on garnering the kind of engagement that games seem to get by default. It’s no wonder that youngsters are hooked.  

The author of the article is Saurabh Saxena, Founder and CEO, Uable.

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