Gaming – from entertainment to big business

Gaming (computer and online gaming) is a big deal these days.

ODT editorial:  For the love of the games

Gaming is to this generation what rock and roll was to 1960s youths. It is a cultural phenomenon, a part of everyday life, and a booming economic industry that has provided entertainment for millions and professional opportunities for plenty of bright young things.

There are the blockbusters – Call of DutyFifaRed Dead Redemption – which have multimillion-dollar development budgets and revenue, and offer highly interactive cinematics and simulation-style gameplay; the fairy-tale success stories, like Minecraft; the untold number of independent releases that find small but loyal audiences; and the snackbox games, the likes of Candy Crush and Clash of Clans, that are free to play and perfect for 10 spare minutes on a smartphone.

Everybody, it seems, is playing games.

Not me, unless you include playing political games on blogs, but I think that’s quite different.

The first computer games I played were in the mid seventies – very basic games using a printer as a ‘display’. Golf required trying to guess how far to ‘hit’ to the hole, and each attempt was another printed line. Also a ‘guess what I am thinking’ game.

In the early eighties I got into home computers (selling and tutoring) so used the basic games of the time. I also did some programming – a few years ago I saw an online mention of an early New Zealand geography program, and realised that I had written it. I was able to find the  code online, and also an OS emulator – a cool blast from the past.

I got slightly addicted to some games – The Hobbit, Leisure Larry, Tetris, Solitaire, but didn’t get drawn much into arcade type games beyond dabbling.

Once the seeming preserve of geekish teenagers, gaming now caters for old and young, hardcore console advocates and PC master racers, boys and girls.

But, just as rock and roll came loaded with plenty of baggage – the fears of corruption of youth and debauched behaviour that (mostly) proved unfounded – so, too, does gaming find itself in the crosshairs of those who believe it is having deleterious effects on a generation.

A small but vocal and well-organised group, led by the conservative right in America, has long argued the proliferation of violent games has led to more violence and killing sprees. Virtual guns, clearly, being so much more dangerous than the real things.

Now comes a new alarm being rung. There is talk of parents losing the battle against their children’s addiction to Fortnite, the free-to-play, wildly popular battle royale game that has become a ubiquitous topic of discussion in school playgrounds.

Bloomberg reports some parents have become so concerned at their children neglecting their studies, or even falling asleep in class, they have gone and checked them into rehabilitation centres.

I can remember staying awake late and reading books (remember them?) And sometimes being tired in class (and also reading in class).  But books had an end so didn’t hold ongoing attention.

I see young people wanting to use their ‘devices’ and play games.

My daughter bought a computer kit for Christmas and I helped my grandkids assemble it (largely the physical computer rather than the electronics). They keep asking to play on it – but it’s not a standard type game. They have had to follow instructions and add to the assembly by adding control switches and circuitry via patch boards, so it is a good educational exercise.

There is a sound basis to the theory gaming – like many other things – can be dangerously addictive. Gaming can be a seductive hook with its promises of accomplishment, exploration, escape and social interaction. But that is no reason to throw your hands in the air and let the child, and the game, dictate terms.

There is also no point in pretending this is just a fad. Gaming is hugely popular, estimates showing there are 2.2billion gamers around the globe.

And it is extremely big business. The industry could be worth $US138billion ($NZ208billion) this year, the Global Games Market Report found, making it comfortably the biggest entertainment sector in the world, and competitive e-sports events are thriving.

New Zealand’s gaming industry is humming. Revenue here hit a record $143million last year, and as of March there were 550 fulltime game developers working in New Zealand studios.

Gaming is now a career option, and also a potential for business opportunities. For some (a few) it can be big business.

Like rock and roll, or the Beatles, or pop, rock, or hip hop gaming provides modern entertainment as well as being big business. There are down sides, as with just about everything, but it is an industry that is only going to keep developing.


  1. Gezza

     /  January 4, 2019

    Welcome to the holodeck next.

  2. kluelis

     /  January 4, 2019

    Yeah wish we had online games as kids. All we had were Cap guns, tops, shanghais, card games like 500 + euchre, snakes and ladders draughts monopoly and 2 o’clock matinee pictchas on Saturdays with the cartoons , the serial, movie tone news and standing up for God save the Queen and no rolling jaffas down the floor.I ate all mine. I want my child hood back.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 4, 2019

      My brother once leaned over a balcony with an icecream in his hand and it fell out of the cone onto someone below. I still larf at the memory.

      Board games are still very popular.The Warehouse has a large number of them. Even oldies like dominoes are still alive and well. And books are flourishing.

      We had puzzles where you had to roll ballbearings through mazes. The stinkers were the ones where three ballbearings had to be rolled into holes. It seemed impossible to put the last one in without the others coming out.

      I had magic painting books where the picture was ‘painted’ with water and turned into a coloured one. How ???

  3. PartisanZ

     /  January 4, 2019

    I predict almost all human life shall eventually become ‘gaming’ of sorts, virtually virtual from cradle-to-grave … Games shall nurture us in fulfillment of playful possibilities …

    Both education and business must surely benefit from not being taken so seriously?

    Imagine the health benefits of so much less stress …?

    Everyone must be paid to ‘play’, thus maintaining the game of life’s certainty … with those who ‘work’ in the old-fashioned sense – in non-bullshit jobs – being paid differently and accordingly …

    I’m working on a two-tiered currency system to suit this scenario … panopoly* money for everyone supplemented by ‘real’ money for additional work … with suitable limitations such as duration of ‘currency’ …

    It’s a game in progress …

    * Can’t find panopoly in dictionary or thesaurus … so I’ll claim it as new word # 2 for 2019

  4. David in aus

     /  January 4, 2019

    Big business gaming on phones. A friend of mine has a profits of 50 million per year for his smartphone game. The game was developed by himself and one other person.

    A career option that is not well known about.

  5. Gezza

     /  January 4, 2019

    This is Your Child’s Brain on Video Games
    Video games leave kids revved up, stressed out, and primed for a meltdown.

    Richard Graham: Why gaming addiction is on the rise