Publisher's Note

Publisher's Note
Articulate… For a Gamer

Alexander Macris | 16 Feb 2010 13:00
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Now, let's look at the facts from the ESA:

  • 68% of American households play computer or video games.
  • The average game player is 35 years old.
  • The game industry contributes over $3.8 billion to US GDP annually.
  • The game industry supports over 250,000 jobs in the United States.
  • The average salary for direct employees is $92,300.
  • The game industry generates more revenue than the movie industry.

How is it, in an industry with a quarter of a million employees, making around six figures income, generating almost $4B in added value, people are surprised to find a game industry employee who is clean cut and well-spoken? This suggests to me that gaming, as a business, is not yet being taken seriously.

As someone who did, in fact, give up my law career to pursue gaming, this bothers me. So let me take a few minutes to share a few choice thoughts on why it ought to be taken seriously.

First, gaming is the entertainment of the future. If you're not playing games now, you will be soon. You may not realize you're playing games - they may find a new word for it, or bundle it in a way that hides the game-like nature of your experience from you - but you will be engaging in entertainment that is based upon the design and technology developed by the video game industry. Virtual reality is coming. Augmented reality is coming. Ubiquitous gaming is coming.

Second, and perhaps even more important, gaming is the educational tool of the future. The UK Army is already actively recruiting teenagers who play video games to become elite helicopter pilots, explaining that "skill in flying aircraft is to absorb large amounts of information from different sources without becoming flustered. The new generation of computer-game-playing youngsters...already have some of those skills."

But it isn't just flying aircraft that depends on absorbing large amounts of information without being flustered. It's everything. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia and the rest of the web have put more information in our cell phone than all of mankind has had in recorded history. As a society we're still using techniques developed by the ancient Greeks 2,000 years ago, but we live in a world so complex and fast-changing that Socrates himself could not keep up.

Gaming is our way to change all that. Whether it's training soldiers, teaching doctors the intricacies of surgery, or educating K-12 children in science and math, gaming's ability to tap directly into the engage-play-learn network of our mind makes it far superior to traditional methods of practice and learning.

As a result of these trends, gamers - people like you, reading this article - will be the new cognitive elite. Smarter. Faster. Better at football. Which isn't to say that there won't be a place for people who don't like video games. Ours will be an inclusive society, of course. I'm sure there will still be some folks who are smart and articulate... for non-gamers.

Alexander Macris is co-founder and publisher of The Escapist, as well as president and CEO of its parent company, Themis Media. He has also written two tabletop wargames, conceived and edited the book "MMORPGs for Dummies," and designed the award-winning web game "Heroes Mini." After hours, he serves as president of Triangle Game Initiative, the Raleigh-Durham area's game industry association, and runs a weekly tabletop roleplaying game campaign of concentrated awesomeness.

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