Yet another RSS feed I have picked up in recent weeks is for Nicholas Lovell’s Gamesbrief which came to my attention via the always interesting Tom Jubert. It’s a blog about the business of games development, which attracts me for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is that I have often considered starting up my own business.
But I digress.
One of Nicholas’ recent posts covers the death of independent UK games retailer Chipsworld and, in particular, Nicolas asserts:
This one is more of a belief than empirical evidence. I’m still researching it…
As people get older, with families and other commitments, they are less able to dedicate time to gaming. they are still keen gamers, but will seek alternative, less-intensive ways of getting their gaming fix.
This is precisely what happens in the film / television industries. Single, dating, childless people go to the cinema more often. Older, married couples with kids watch television. They are still consumers of filmed entertainment: just through a different medium.
(I can promise you they don’t play Neptune’s Pride for one thing.)
Nicholas’ comments caught my eye as I was wrestling with this game time versus age problem in my previous post.
Twenty years ago, the growth of gaming was fuelled by the young – but this first wave of pioneer gamers have all grown up. There are various estimates of the average age of a gamer but one of the most recent cites the number 32. Thinking about this, I doubt it is purely down to the softening and diversification of games to be more inclusive; we are also looking at a solid percentage of the pioneers continuing to game. (As an aside, the average age of a British mother at her first birth in marriage has climbed above 30 in the last few years; reference ONS data, Social Trends 40 Full Report pg 23).
So it is easy to see why casual gaming is so pervasive. Not only does it solve the needs of the burgeoning iPhone/Facebook generation but also the first wave of gamers who are settling down, trading gaming time for family.
This throws up all sorts of questions for me.
I wonder what lies at the end of this process, when the pioneer gamers are in retirement? Hardcore gaming will almost certainly still exist; but will it be labelled niche if casual is where the money is? Are we in the midst of cultural shift in gaming – with the rise of hardcore indie (more Avernum VI and AI War than World of Goo) being a sign that mainstream will eventually drop it for good? What’s the definition of hardcore anyway? Is this just all getting mixed up with the mainstream game development becoming dangerously expensive?
Answers on a postcard please.