By Ben Roberts
The gaming industry has traditionally been considered as fairly niche, but with the last five years or so seeing the introduction of the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, advanced smartphones and tablets, the industry has been transformed. This stunning new technology, coupled with so-called casual games like Just Dance or Angry Birds and social games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars, has opened the market to a host of new audiences. Indeed, the value of the market these days is huge – in July Gartner predicted that in Britain we’d spend £3.6bn on games this year. That’s about the same as the music industry, if you’re wondering.
What’s odd, however, is that the image of the gamer hasn’t changed. As someone who <3 computer games I find this pretty sad (not because I’m sad). Gamers have long-been considered socially awkward geeks with not a lot else going on in their life, and many people remain shy about sharing the fact that they enjoy playing computer games, fearful of the assumptions that would be made about them.
For example, when my colleague, @JacsBooker, recently levelled up and got an iPad – soon getting hooked on Flight Control and playing it on a daily basis during her commute – she flat out denied the fact that she’s a gamer. She actually puts this down to the fact that she doesn’t play a ‘proper game’ like Call of Duty – but, personally, I don’t believe there’s a difference in playing one type of game or another; if you play games, you play games.
In order for the modern reluctant gamer to accept the truth, I believe that the image of the gamer needs some PR love. We need to help people recognise that computer games are nothing to be ashamed of. Whether it be shooting virtual people with virtual bullets, or shooting virtual pigs with virtual birds, gaming should not be your dirty little secret.