Even before the pandemic, gaming was big business. A very big business.
The industry generated $119.6 billion in revenue during 2018, while through the first quarter of this year, consumers spent $14.9 billion on video games and hardware; a 30% increase over the first three months of 2020.
In the UK alone, the video game market hit a record £7 billion last year, as lockdown encouraged an increase in the popularity of mobile games, consoles and virtual reality headsets.
People who may not have had the time or the disposable income to play video games previously were buying consoles and gaming online like never before, resulting in £1.6 billion more being spent on games compared with 2019; an unprecedented 30% year-on-year increase.
After all, thanks to advances in online play, gaming is, for many, a social activity nowadays.
Take Reddit user ghost knight1121, for example.
After finding out that one of his friends, who he had been gaming with for the best part of 15 years, was unable to buy a new PlayStation 5, he decided to surprise him with one in order to ensure that they could keep up the tradition of gaming alongside one another.
Through gaming, the two have gone on many adventures, both virtual and otherwise, together and Ghost_knight1121 later explained that the pair had even been best men at one another’s weddings.
“Been gaming with this dude for 15 years,” he wrote on Reddit. “Since Rainbow Six Vegas on 360… Looking forward to playing another generation with him.”
Gaming can also be good for us. While neurological and psychological research on video games may be in its infancy, recent research has revealed that video games can have a beneficial impact on both our brains and our cognitive skill sets.
A study by two researchers from the University of Rochester in New York revealed that video games can impact and perhaps even aid neuroplasticity – a biological process where the brain changes and adapts when exposed to new experiences.
It claimed that games where reflexes, reaction time and hand-eye coordination are challenged provided tangible cognitive advantages that can help us in everyday life.
On the flipside, video game addiction is a field of increasing interest to psychologists and neuroscientists alike. However, as Marc Palaus, who holds a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from the Open University of Catalonia, told WIRED recently: “Roughly speaking, there are no big differences between video game addiction and other addictions.”