How The Future Of Gaming Will Shape The Future Of Empathy

Gaming is absorbing everything. It is the chrysalis from which a new media form – The Metaverse – will emerge. The Metaverse is a virtual world where millions will meet online. It will become our key social hub across the next decade. Ignoring its rise would be like ignoring the rise of TV. But not only does gaming herald the arrival of an entirely new form of media channel, it’s also set to redefine the way humans interact, and I want to explain why.

By 2023, gaming is predicted to be worth over $200 billion, with 3bn players engaged globally. In many countries it already dwarfs film and music combined, and the pandemic has seen many previous records shattered, with the US reporting a 75% increase in gaming traffic, and gaming app installs hurtling into the stratosphere like a Space-X launch. When the pandemic has subsided, we may see that J-curve levelling off a little, but one thing is for sure: gaming is set to be the dominant media channel. Whether playing on mobile, console or PC, streaming and spectating, or even competing at esports, this will change everything.

For this very reason, not only is gaming becoming a standard fixture of marketing plans, sitting comfortably alongside TV, digital and outdoor, but the next decade will see it become an indelible part of our culture and enshrine new ways to connect and converse globally. This is the reason it is imperative for brands and businesses to be involved.

Across the centuries, in the evolution of media, there is precedent: like Russian dolls, every new media channel always absorbing the previous channel to contain it. First, there was writing to tell stories and convey information. Then radio absorbed writing, absorbing its qualities, but adding audio. Television absorbed radio, adding visuals. Then the internet absorbed television, audio and the written word.

Now, at the time of writing, gaming is absorbing everything. The biggest of all Russian dolls. We are seeing it morph from mere computerised competition into a ‘channel of channels’ containing all other media. Those paying close attention will have witnessed this. As gaming goes mainstream, we are seeing it assume the form of existing cultural touchpoints. Games are now films. They contain Hollywood film stars – like Keanu in Cyberpunk 2077 – and use cinematic trailers to tease huge multi-million-dollar launches. Similarly, gaming and music is blurring too, with bands providing soundtracks to big titles, and artists like Travis Scott performing ‘live’ virtual concerts inside games. Then there’s e-sports, note that word ‘sport’, with its live arena broadcasts, world-famous teams and massive sponsorship deals. In short: gaming is like water, taking on the shape of the vessel it touches.

Soon, as it evolves as a media form, people will visit former gaming environments not to blast zombies and collect power ups. They will go there to read, listen, and watch. They will meet, socialise, and converse – with no quests, no controllers. Just human connection. This is the point at which gaming begins to transform into The Metaverse – a third digital space that people simply inhabit to live, love, work rest and play.

This is enormously significant. We connect through our culture and its touchpoints. It’s a societal sat-nav allowing people to find one another through ideas and values, often manifested as film, TV, sport and music. When gaming flows over, under and through those things, it will also be a potent and dynamic method of connection between citizens. Further, the evolution from gaming to its ‘final form’ may also give us a potential glimpse of a future society. Many commentators remark modern media is an echo chamber, exposing its users only to those values likely to find agreement. When users have ultimate choice over with whom to converse and connect, it may cement a global stratification; layering societies along lines of shared values and not nationality or regionality. Consequently, we may see the instigation of global virtual communities. Networked tribes operating outside geographic and demographic boundaries, able to exert influence from their scattered and disparate locations all over the planet.

Gaming’s dominance as a media channel will have a part to play in that stratification. Go to Twitch and watch the interactions. Call of Duty fans stream to Call of Duty fans. Cosplayers stream to cosplayers. Watch the torrent of messages in the chat window at the side. Reaching out. Connecting. Creating friendships. Watch people take on new identities, reinventing their personalities, redesigning their bodies.

In addition, this may be the first time in human history, on such a mass scale, we will forge deep friendships and allegiances with people we’ll never actually meet, who take a form different to their real-world version. Will the future of empathy lie in the creation of communities and social movements in the cloud, using new tools to express ourselves online, like emojis and avatars? Is the gaming universe showing us a glimpse of how future society will be structured and how it will interact? Will we target people based on who they want to be, rather than who they are? New ways of connecting will mean new tech-fuelled forms of community and empathy.

So, in the here-and-now, where do businesses and brands fit into all of this? In 2021, they will need to start shifting their thinking, seeking to connect with their audience via attitudinal value-sets and rather than straight age and gender demographics. There are three actions:

First, locate the audience across gaming. Don’t think about whether customers are gamers. Start thinking about where to find customers across gaming. Understand more about their age, gender, life stage and gaming habits to help clarify the specific opportunities available.

Second, integrate gaming into marketing plans. It must become a permanent fixture on plans, like TV, Digital and OOH. Consider how creative assets and partnerships can be ported across into gaming environments. Native in-game banners are scalable, affordable reach & awareness builders to work alongside any digital banner. Once mastered, look to influencer deals and content partnerships, a natural extension for more emotionally-driven engagement.

Third, learn to speak the language of these networked tribes and gain a profound understanding of how they prefer to interact. There is an opportunity to be an authentic part of these discrete future cultures. Later this decade, when it’s no longer about computerised competition, becoming an enhancer of virtual communities’ broader experiences will be paramount.

Ultimately this is not about gaming. It is about learning to integrate into a new medium that will come to house all other media touchpoints. We are about to see the maturation of a media form that will define our decade. Maybe even our century. And that’s worth being part of.

Phil Rowley
Head of OMG Futures
For a full report on the future of gaming, download Level Up – The Future of Gaming here: https://lnkd.in/dRiWtGE
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/philrowley77/

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How The Future Of Gaming Will Shape The Future Of Empathy

Gaming is absorbing everything. It is the chrysalis from which a new media form – The Metaverse – will emerge. The Metaverse is a virtual world where millions will meet online. It will become our key social hub across the next decade. Ignoring its rise would be like ignoring the rise of TV. But not only does gaming herald the arrival of an entirely new form of media channel, it’s also set to redefine the way humans interact, and I want to explain why.

By 2023, gaming is predicted to be worth over $200 billion, with 3bn players engaged globally. In many countries it already dwarfs film and music combined, and the pandemic has seen many previous records shattered, with the US reporting a 75% increase in gaming traffic, and gaming app installs hurtling into the stratosphere like a Space-X launch. When the pandemic has subsided, we may see that J-curve levelling off a little, but one thing is for sure: gaming is set to be the dominant media channel. Whether playing on mobile, console or PC, streaming and spectating, or even competing at esports, this will change everything.

For this very reason, not only is gaming becoming a standard fixture of marketing plans, sitting comfortably alongside TV, digital and outdoor, but the next decade will see it become an indelible part of our culture and enshrine new ways to connect and converse globally. This is the reason it is imperative for brands and businesses to be involved.

Across the centuries, in the evolution of media, there is precedent: like Russian dolls, every new media channel always absorbing the previous channel to contain it. First, there was writing to tell stories and convey information. Then radio absorbed writing, absorbing its qualities, but adding audio. Television absorbed radio, adding visuals. Then the internet absorbed television, audio and the written word.

Now, at the time of writing, gaming is absorbing everything. The biggest of all Russian dolls. We are seeing it morph from mere computerised competition into a ‘channel of channels’ containing all other media. Those paying close attention will have witnessed this. As gaming goes mainstream, we are seeing it assume the form of existing cultural touchpoints. Games are now films. They contain Hollywood film stars – like Keanu in Cyberpunk 2077 – and use cinematic trailers to tease huge multi-million-dollar launches. Similarly, gaming and music is blurring too, with bands providing soundtracks to big titles, and artists like Travis Scott performing ‘live’ virtual concerts inside games. Then there’s e-sports, note that word ‘sport’, with its live arena broadcasts, world-famous teams and massive sponsorship deals. In short: gaming is like water, taking on the shape of the vessel it touches.

Soon, as it evolves as a media form, people will visit former gaming environments not to blast zombies and collect power ups. They will go there to read, listen, and watch. They will meet, socialise, and converse – with no quests, no controllers. Just human connection. This is the point at which gaming begins to transform into The Metaverse – a third digital space that people simply inhabit to live, love, work rest and play.

This is enormously significant. We connect through our culture and its touchpoints. It’s a societal sat-nav allowing people to find one another through ideas and values, often manifested as film, TV, sport and music. When gaming flows over, under and through those things, it will also be a potent and dynamic method of connection between citizens. Further, the evolution from gaming to its ‘final form’ may also give us a potential glimpse of a future society. Many commentators remark modern media is an echo chamber, exposing its users only to those values likely to find agreement. When users have ultimate choice over with whom to converse and connect, it may cement a global stratification; layering societies along lines of shared values and not nationality or regionality. Consequently, we may see the instigation of global virtual communities. Networked tribes operating outside geographic and demographic boundaries, able to exert influence from their scattered and disparate locations all over the planet.

Gaming’s dominance as a media channel will have a part to play in that stratification. Go to Twitch and watch the interactions. Call of Duty fans stream to Call of Duty fans. Cosplayers stream to cosplayers. Watch the torrent of messages in the chat window at the side. Reaching out. Connecting. Creating friendships. Watch people take on new identities, reinventing their personalities, redesigning their bodies.

In addition, this may be the first time in human history, on such a mass scale, we will forge deep friendships and allegiances with people we’ll never actually meet, who take a form different to their real-world version. Will the future of empathy lie in the creation of communities and social movements in the cloud, using new tools to express ourselves online, like emojis and avatars? Is the gaming universe showing us a glimpse of how future society will be structured and how it will interact? Will we target people based on who they want to be, rather than who they are? New ways of connecting will mean new tech-fuelled forms of community and empathy.

So, in the here-and-now, where do businesses and brands fit into all of this? In 2021, they will need to start shifting their thinking, seeking to connect with their audience via attitudinal value-sets and rather than straight age and gender demographics. There are three actions:

First, locate the audience across gaming. Don’t think about whether customers are gamers. Start thinking about where to find customers across gaming. Understand more about their age, gender, life stage and gaming habits to help clarify the specific opportunities available.

Second, integrate gaming into marketing plans. It must become a permanent fixture on plans, like TV, Digital and OOH. Consider how creative assets and partnerships can be ported across into gaming environments. Native in-game banners are scalable, affordable reach & awareness builders to work alongside any digital banner. Once mastered, look to influencer deals and content partnerships, a natural extension for more emotionally-driven engagement.

Third, learn to speak the language of these networked tribes and gain a profound understanding of how they prefer to interact. There is an opportunity to be an authentic part of these discrete future cultures. Later this decade, when it’s no longer about computerised competition, becoming an enhancer of virtual communities’ broader experiences will be paramount.

Ultimately this is not about gaming. It is about learning to integrate into a new medium that will come to house all other media touchpoints. We are about to see the maturation of a media form that will define our decade. Maybe even our century. And that’s worth being part of.

Phil Rowley
Head of OMG Futures
For a full report on the future of gaming, download Level Up – The Future of Gaming here: https://lnkd.in/dRiWtGE
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/philrowley77/

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