Digital Legacies: Online Gaming

Julius Wiedemann dives into the vibrant world of online gaming, its increasing accessibility to people across borders, and the potential benefits of gamification in other fields.

by Julius WiedemannPublished on : Jan 12, 2022

Nenem is the nickname of an international game player, a waiter at a restaurant in his commercial time, in the northeast of Brazil, who leads a team of online game players in his spare time. At the end of 2021, his team lost the final to a Russian rival at a worldwide online gaming competition. Nenem never paid extra to get goods or jump phases. He must make it for his own as he doesn’t have the extra money from his low paying job. But he is an aficionado for computer games and has been one for a long time. He started to take it seriously a few years ago, and now, in his little spare time, when stopping for lunch for instance, he turns to his mobile phone to practice. The finale in the last year came as a disappointment, but one of his teammates couldn’t take part because the boss didn’t allow the guy to stop for the final, and they had to substitute him for someone with less experience. The shooting game competition was going to pay about 8000 USD to each of the team members, had they won the final.

Widespread smartphone usage and the ubiquity of broadband internet have been major contributors to improved accessibility in the gaming sphere | Digital Legacies | STIRworld
Widespread smartphone usage and the ubiquity of broadband internet have been major contributors to improved accessibility in the gaming sphere Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Situations like these are not uncommon anymore. It was long ago when only privileged people had access to international careers. Let alone the technological infrastructure, which includes equipment, broadband, and language skills. The digital world is opening doors in many unobserved territories. Today it allows people with all kinds of backgrounds to enrol in education, entertainment, relationships, and entrepreneurial initiatives, anywhere, anytime, and anyhow, all over the world. It is important to understand the key aspects that have created those possibilities. The digital revolution started some 70 years back, but especially in the last 30 years, with the rise of the Internet, there has been accessibility. But one thing didn’t change for the good. Accessibility is what has unleashed the creative power and the talents of people who do not see borders anymore, neither in countries nor in language, neither in skill building nor in educational attainment, for exploring areas that were not only untapped, but most importantly, didn’t even exist three decades ago.

The video game industry relies on unique combinations of professionals to bring vibrant virtual worlds such as those in Final Fantasy to life | Digital Legacies | STIRworld
The video game industry relies on unique combinations of professionals to bring vibrant virtual worlds such as those in Final Fantasy to life Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

From conceptual illustrators to coders, from script writers to movie directors, from 3D specialists to storytellers, technology visionaries to technology crazies, the video game industry has thrived using a unique combination of professionals that transformed this universe into a new form of culture. Video gaming is considered today a new narrative, independent from literature or poetry, or film, for example. For a new industry to be created and to grow, it needs critical mass, and it needs the mass adoption from people that will shift paradigms. And if we only consider the video game players who are younger than 25 and already making tons of money from their tutorials on YouTube, we are talking about an unprecedented revolution. But that is only the surface, the visible part. What lies behind that revolution is transformational and has barely started. There are many calculations available online for the income of gamers. Apart from sponsorships, which is still their main income most of the times, estimates come to: for 10,000 views 1.65/3*10=$5.5. So, for a million views on YouTube, you will be paid 1.65/3*1000 = $550. But recently, one of YouTube's biggest stars, David Dobrik, said that he earned about $2,000 a month from YouTube directly, despite his weekly videos gaining an average 10 million views. He, as well, earns most of his money through brand sponsorships.

Gaming is so important now that its benefits are now being explored in education through methods such as gamified learning exercises and edutainment | Digital Legacies | STIRworld
Gaming is so important now that its benefits are now being explored in education through methods such as gamified learning exercises and edutainment Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Gaming is so important now that it has become part of education. When we talk about gamification or edutainment, we are referring to a new form of learning. And that is the main point of understanding this sector as a new culture. The 21st century is not about how we educate people. It is much more about understanding how people learn. This one is going to shift the next educational and career-building paths. The highest paying jobs in the video gaming industry are for game designers, with the top 10 per cent in the category earning up to 400,000 USD annually. But other good positions are video game developers, quality assurance tester, producers, game artists, animators, among others. Depending on the platform, video games can be subcategorised into PC and console games. In recent years, however, the rise and uptake of social networks, smartphones and tablets added new categories such as mobile and social games. The MMOGs, or massively multiplayer online game (more commonly, MMO), which often integrate hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously on the same server, have become commonplace. Found for most network-capable platforms, including the personal computer, video game console, or smartphones and other mobile devices, MMO bestsellers include Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Old School Runescape, Path to Exile, Destiny, Warframe, and others.

Massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft are now commonplace on network compatible platforms | Digital Legacies | STIRworld
Massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft are now commonplace on network compatible platforms Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Video games have come a long way since their first inceptions emerged in the 1970s. Today, with photorealistic graphics and with the capacity to simulate reality to an astonishing degree, the numbers have become superlative. The gamers in the US spend about $3.8 billion overall on MMO games, with $1.8 billion of that on monthly subscription fees. Studies have found that almost half of the 46 million players in the US pay real money to play MMO games. The US game market is valuated today at around $85 billion. In November 2021, Americans have spent almost $1 billion just on equipment for gaming. This phenomenon is comparable and proportional in many other countries, like mentioned in the first paragraph, in the countryside of Brazil. Even though the market value of game companies is not astounding, this market is composed by thousands of small stakeholders, which contribute now to a new type of economy. From Microsoft to Blizzard games, from Facebook to Ibisoft, from Google to Nintendo, from Domestika to Apple, the entire digital industry is involved somehow in this parallel virtual world.

Video games have come a long way from the initially clunky interfaces of the 1970s to the photorealistic graphics and simulated realities seen today | Digital Legacies | STIRworld
Video games have come a long way from the initially clunky interfaces of the 1970s to the photorealistic graphics and simulated realities seen today Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Read more from the series Digital Legacies where our columnist Julius Wiedemann investigates the many aspects of digital life.

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