Through advancement of technology and communications, video games and social media have risen to prominence and are actively shaping the future of sports, media, and overall entertainment.
Cue gaming – a happier social medium
The internet can be a hostile place. After all, when you create a platform in which the purpose is to share thoughts and opinions with the masses, you’re likely going to come head-to-head with some thoughts that don’t jive with your own.
Gaming, on the other hand, is engineered to bring pleasure through challenge and social connection. Those games that don’t provide joy simply aren’t purchased, played, or watched.
In a world of social media-induced insecurities and anxieties, gaming is providing people with micro-doses of success and little drops of dopamine throughout the day.
Picture this: you’re having a rough day and could use a pick-me-up. While scrolling Instagram or Twitter for a few moments could snap you out of it, you could also opt to play a round of Candy Crush or Fortnite instead, providing you with a quick win and a jolt of happiness to the system. And the proof is in the pudding, with gamers spending ~$152.1 billion on gaming in 2019 alone.
We’re all in this together. Gaming has become a much more social hobby than social media, particularly with today’s multiplayer gameplay, streaming, and esports. Long gone is the stereotype of gamers playing alone and isolated, with more than 70% of today’s gamers playing with friends, either physically together or online, according to a University of Montreal study cited by PsyPost.
From my own experience, gaming is providing users and brands, across oceans, with more opportunities to engage socially over shared passions versus. passive consumption of content over social media.
Bridging identity gaps. Social media has done a fantastic job of highlighting what makes people unique, but gaming is also taking it up a notch. It's a venue that can bridge the gap between race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., allowing players to join teams, fight, lose, and win together –– and it’s happening on a massive global scale.
For several years I have personally been part of a Clash of Clans team fondly referred to as “Dad’s Bagels.” Only recently did I ask where my clanmates were based. I discovered that I have a group of friends on the island of Tonga! The unique bridging of cultures and oceans that gaming is able to achieve is fostering a sense of truly positive connection that other platforms haven’t been able to cultivate.
The trajectory of gaming and esports appears to be on a never-ending upward swing. With new games being launched, new teams being formed, and new brands getting involved every day, the outlook is not only positive for the industry, but also for the lives of the users that the gaming world is bettering.
Social media isn’t on its way out anytime soon — and it’s increasingly important to acknowledge its pros and cons. But for those looking for a mental break from reality (and one that has the power to lift you up), being part of a community of like-minded people, where micro successes are being celebrated, is powerful, positive, and quite possibly the antidote we all need right now.