Gaming is a longstanding, defining piece of the youth culture puzzle. In 2018, US video game sales reached a new high. 2018 saw an 18% increase in video game sales since 2017. In fact, gaming sales surpassed North American movie box office sales in 2018 (which recorded $11.9 billion).
FORTNITE’S MARSHMELLO CONCERT
Rarely is there a trend or force as dominant as Fortnite is in the world of gaming. Fortnite has over 200 million players worldwide (this is a phenomenal 60% increase from June of 2018). On a regular basis, there are 8.3 million concurrent players. One study on the rise in gaming in 2018 actually found that of all the time they spend online, children spend 21% that time online playing Fortnite.
Last Saturday, in an unprecedented gaming moment, EDM producer Marshmello performed a live concert within the Fortnite game. Dubbed an ‘exciting glimpse into the future’, the 10 minute one-off spectacle came to life with cool holograms and custom graphics. It was an experience that many young users had never seen the likes of before:
“What makes me happiest about today is that so many people got to experience their first concert ever. All the videos I keep seeing of people laughing and smiling throughout the set are amazing. Man I’m still so pumped.” Marshmello.
The Marshmello event also marked a special moment when players were unable to attack one another. Epic Games (the developers of Fortnite) took learnings from previous one-off live events - like its iconic rocket launch and its most recent freezing over of the entire game map - and launched a special game mode specifically for the duration of the show. With weapons disabled (Fortnite is a shooter survival game), the concert provided a space where this community was remarkably unchaotic - a moment of pure joy and reflection.
“It’s a glimpse into the scope of what can be achieved in this shared online worlds that are being created. Epic Games are constantly changing their world and how players can interact within it. This is super exciting. No longer are video games based on how real the graphics are (we're pretty much there already), but rather the innovative ways we can interact with others through them.” Luke, 30
The show signifies just how endless the scope is with regard to video game entertainment, and how experiences in the real and online worlds are so intertwined for the youth audience.
GAMING FOR GOOD
While gaming has been under longstanding scrutiny due to its screen-heavy nature and addictive qualities, the industry and its dedicated community users have been generating positive news stories of late.
At the end of last month, UK YouTuber Harry Brewis AKA ‘Hbomberguy’, played ‘Donkey Kong 64’ for 57 hours to raise money for Mermaids, a UK-based organisation that supports gender diverse young people. Brewis’ stream was joined by over 650,000 people and by the time he was done he had raised $340,000 for the organisation. Brewis was applauded by fans for using the Twitch platform as a vehicle to raise money for a trans rights charity - especially because over the last year or so Twitch streamers have been censored for the likes of homophobia, misogyny, harassment and on-camera domestic abuse:
“It really highlighted the support and love within the gaming community. This is no longer a past time for just one group of people, and it was great to see diversity celebrated and recognised. This is particularly important since the vocal minority generated a lot of attention when it came to Gamergate, which centred on issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture.” Luke, 30
It’s not just individual gamers shining a light on equality issues they feel are important. Microsoft also made headlines this week after the launch of their empowering Superbowl 2019 ad “We All Win”. The communication promoted their adaptive Xbox controller which can be customised for people with different limitations and motor skills. The ad starred children with physical disabilities who explained their love of gaming and how the product benefitted their gaming experience.
“No matter how your body is or how fast you are, you can play.” Owen, 9 (and a half)
For many young people gaming is their way of physically interacting with friends when they can’t otherwise do it.