What’s your favorite childhood memory that you still treasure to this day? It could be a special road trip, winning a championship, a prank on a neighbor, or even breaking curfew and waking up in the next town over. I’d wager that if every reader could share what their favorite childhood memory was, not a single experience would be ordinary. In fact, that’s what makes a moment memorable – the extraordinary in the foreground of the ordinary. Whatever our memories may be, I think we can all agree that what creates a good memory is not monolithic. While I can’t speak to the degree of wonder you felt, achievements you met, or expectations you transcended I can still think of one thing that binds all of your (the readers') memories together – they all happened in real life.
What may seem a shockingly perfunctory statement on my part actually has some merit in our rapidly changing world. I grew up in an exurb 15 minutes outside of Urbana. My childhood in the 2000s and mid-2010s was a rather isolated one. I was limited to sidewalks that merely led from one house to another, the only neighborhood exits were paved road. I was heavily reliant on my parents if I ever wanted to leave the neighborhood for any reason. I could have no grand adventure because beyond the next tree line were manicured lawns and beautiful homes. In such a gilded cage I turned to video games as my entertainment outlet.
Whatever reality I wanted to emulate (if there was a game for it) I could experience. If I wanted to be a city detective, I could play L.A. Noire(TTWO). If I wanted to be a cowboy I could play Red Dead Redemption(TTWO). If I wanted to create a homestead and explore the wilderness I could play Minecraft(MSFT). If I wanted to explore the depths of space, I played Elite Dangerous(FDEV). I was able to avoid loneliness in such an isolating neighborhood by going on these massive adventures with my closest friends. While we were all miles apart from one another in real life, when our characters were right next to each other and the in-game voice chat system worked, it was like we were all right next to each other.
After COVID shook up the world, the general population started to realize that much of the activities we used to do in person, were able to be completed just as well online. People learned that they could shop for groceries, work, and even enjoy the company of older family members from the safety of Zoom(+2.36). I argue this dear reader, after working online for two years why don’t you try to have fun online? Video games are an accessible way to keep in contact with family while avoiding awkward Zoom calls and doing an activity accessible to all age groups. If video games don’t sound like fun they are at least a great money maker.
In 2023, the video game industry is expected to be valued at $187.7 billion. Take Two Interactive is worth an estimated $24.09B. Microsoft (the publisher of Minecraft) is worth $2.4 trillion. Activision Blizzard, the makers of Call of Duty (you might’ve heard about that one), is worth $72.38 billion. Games are a cash cow and the growing commercialization of in-game USD transactions means that profits will only go up. The fortnight generation, the first of which are now graduating high school, have grown up in an environment where microtransactions are normal. They are the buyers that game companies want to target and these fortnight kids are eager to spend money on any in game items that pique their interest.
The gaming industry now has a generation that has been conditioned to spend money that only 10 years ago would be seen as anti-consumer. As video games remain popular and more kids become normalized to the idea of spending money in-game, the population of consumers willing to spend money on video games will only increase. In my opinion, the games industry has the perfect consumer base for making a lot of money for a long time. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------