Gaming has exploded in popularity. There are already 900 million engaged gamers worldwide who are watching and playing on a regular basis.
Research estimates that global esports viewership will grow at 9% per year between now and 2023, by which time the sector is projected to record revenues of over $1.8bn globally. This is not a fad. It is a mega trend.
Amid this growth, there is powerful evidence that gaming is now a genuine and powerful force for good. The negative stereotypical view of gamers is not just being challenged, it is being blown out of the water.
One contributory factor has been the rise in popularity of elite esports athletes. These personalities are growing in stature and starting to attain the same sort of status as the megastars of traditional sports.
Not every gamer aspires to become an elite athlete. But the evolution of these professionals has been so profound that the levels they now operate on is inspiring millions.
Their training regimes, physical and mental, are being copied. Eating healthy food, exercising the body and mind, focusing on a balanced lifestyle to deliver improved performances is no longer restricted to a small minority. Training your body and mind is starting to trickle down to gamers all over the globe.
Indeed, there is already evidence that the positive impact of gaming is manifesting itself among the wider community and it is starting amongst younger people.
In the US, in the 2018-19 school year, 200 colleges in the U.S. offered esports scholarships, a threefold increase since 2015.
Why? Because there is a rich body of evidence showing that participation in competitive gaming and esports can help young people learn how to multitask, solve problems and work better in teams. All of these are critical skills that can work to make the next generation more compassionate, collaborative and emotionally intelligent.
What’s more, there is compelling evidence that gaming has tangible physical benefits. Research by Digital Schoolhouse, part of UKIE, the UK trade body for games and interactive entertainment, has found links between participation in esports and wider sports.
Eight in 10 players who took part in their annual Digital Schoolhouse esports tournament said they were more likely to participate in other team sports as a result of taking part in the tournament.
The positive impact of gaming also emerges in unexpected places. Research done in the US has found teenagers involved in school esports tournaments report reduces levels of truancy and absenteeism.
Let’s not forget either that gaming is a way for young people to positively channel their energies. As one researcher points out, “it’s normal and healthy for kids, especially boys, to compete with their peers…Video games are a safe place to express those competitive urges.”
Gaming is not just a pastime, for those in the elite bracket or those who play more casually. It is a way of life. And pretty soon it will be the way generations of young people will be taught.
Tired old assumptions of gamers as lazy, unfit loners are evaporating fast, as the positive benefits of playing competitively become better understood. Gfinity is created by gamers, for gamers, and is uniquely positioned to support this growing global community not just to become better players but happier, healthier human beings.
John Clarke, Global Brand and Marcomms Officer, Gfinity