Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Push Play

The Go Button on the Participation Economy is firmly pushed, and in 2010 I expect games on screens to be big drivers off the tee. I’m thinking less of major universal events like the 2010 Vancouver Olympics or FIFA World Cup (big, cool and connecting as they are) and more of the virtual mainstreaming of myriad minor fun interactions to help get people ahead.

Google blew open the future one-way with search on screens but a big swinger looks to be networked social gaming because it taps straight into our DNA. There’s a way to go on this but video gaming is in transition from a One-to-One or One-to-Many “Shoot’em up” application to a many-to-many social medium. In this future people play together on screens to meet, learn, nurture, cooperate, compete, work, fight and do just about everything that’s in human nature.

The picture sharpens when you combine facts like:
1. Facebook has over 300m active users;
2. on social networks, playing games is beaten out only by search;
3. kids born into the post-Internet world use the Internet most for gaming (homework comes second!);
4. FarmVille, the biggest fastest-growing social game on the Internet is about running a virtual farm (70 million users a day – USA, Turkey, Philippines, UK and Italy are the top users by country – who’d pick this combination!)
5. people perform best when absorbed in their signature strengths, where the interactivity of gaming delivers.

This holds a mirror to a day on-approach when all were born into an Internet-active world. Social gaming is so far a small part of a $50 billion video gaming industry, but points to a future defined by content, connecting, cooperating and also competing. It’s astonishing and concerning that within 24 hours on sale, one in forty nine people in Britain bought a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ($1B in sales globally in one month, a $3B franchise, assassinations from above and below – take that Avatar!).

Let’s hope wars too destructive for the planet too handle will be decided as online games by our kids. The name of the game is “social”, and this is the space to play.